UK shares look set to close the week in the red after an active five-day session dominated by macro-economic data and renewed concerns over the pace of the global recovery.
The benchmark FTSE 1000 index extended yesterday's decline, falling a further 13 p
oints by mid-day London time to trade at around a two-week low of 5,833.
One of the days big movers gave the index solid support, however, as shares in, BT, surged nearly 5 percent, one if the biggest gains in at least six months. The nation's largest telecoms company said it would change the way it makes contributions to its pension plan, potentially freeing up cash for future dividend increases.
Shares in Europe were also on the back foot as investors took stock of the disappointing economic data in China and Germany this week which indicated a potential stall in manufacturing and export activity. A broader private report from Markit showed signs of a possible slip back into recession for the Euro Zone economy after months of debate and negotiation over the fate of Greece's sovereign debt crisis.
The region's EuroStoxx 50 index was on pace for a five-day decline of 3.8 percent while Germany's DAX showed slightly more resilience, trading 0.3 percent lower for the week at mid-day London time.
The cautious investor tone led to another strong day in the German government bond market, with Bund futures rising another 38 ticks to build on yesterday's gains and break through what could be an important technical level to trade at 137.47.
Gilt markets, by contrast, were muted in a light trading session with no major economic data published. Yields on the 10-year benchmark rose by a single basis point to 2.33 percent.
Sterling was strong on the foreign exchange markets, rising against a slightly weaker US dollar to trade at 1.5891 as traders assessed the chances of the Bank of England extending its asset purchase programme.
Dovish inflation data earlier in the week, alongside some cautiously optimistic reports from the Confederation of British Industry was offset to some degree by weak retail sales figures, giving investors no clear direction on the BoE's next move as the nation's financial year comes to a close.
Macro-economic concerns were largely shrugged-off in the oil markets, however, as Brent crude futures rose more than $1 to trade at $124.14 my mid-session. US crude futures were also better bid, trading 63 cents firmer to change hands at $105.98 a barrel in early New York trading.