London’s markets swung aimlessly from red to green before ending the day in the red, lagging behind other European markets during a difficult session.
It seemed as if most traders were more interested in the Prime Minister’s performance following publication of the Sue Gray report, with the day petering out.
The FTSE 100 leading index of shares ended the day down 1.7 points, or 0.02%, at 7,464.37 points.
But despite the final wobble for the month, Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said the FTSE 100 has managed to have a reasonable start to the year.
He said: “The UK benchmark has managed to set itself apart on the month with a decent performance, while markets elsewhere in Europe have struggled.
“Today’s gainers have been led by the telecoms sector with Airtel Africa enjoying its debut on the FTSE 100 with some strong gains, having replaced BHP, as the Australian mining giant abandoned its primary London listing.”
In Europe, the French Cac closed up 0.48% and the German Dax up 0.99%.
Across the Atlantic, Wall Street had a positive start but it was still on course for its worst monthly performance since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
Meanwhile, sterling barely moved during the session, and was up just 0.07% against the US dollar to 1.343, and increased 0.05% against the euro to 1.198.
In company news, online estate agent Purplebricks made gains despite swinging to a loss in the last six-month period and losing market share to rivals.
Purplebricks said that it had taken a £12.9 million loss before tax in the six months to the end of October, compared with a 4.3 million profit in the same period a year earlier.
Shares in the company finished 0.6p higher at 20.6p.
Ocado shares moved higher after it accused rival Autostore of misleading investors over its legal battle with the online grocer in Germany.
Autostore issued an update on the Norwegian stock market on Monday claiming that a judge in a Mannheim Court said Ocado’s intellectual property rights are invalid, but Ocado said this was untrue.
Investors appeared more positive after the update, with shares In the online retail firm rising by 62p, or 4.3%, to 1,504p.
Elsewhere, Lookers jumped in value after the owner of Cinch and WeBuyAnyCar snapped up a 19.9% stake in the car dealership group.
It closed 4.2p higher at 92.8p after private equity-backed Constellation Automotive picked up 78 million shares.
The price of oil continued its recent rise ahead of this week’s key Opec meeting, where members are expected to agree to an output increase.
Brent crude increased by 1.28% to 91.18 US dollars per barrel when the London markets closed.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Scottish Mortgage Trust up 51p at 1,079p; Ocado up 62p at 1,504p; Pershing Square up 105p at 2,770p; Spirax-Sarco up 465p at 13,255p and LSEG up 242p at 7,220p.
The biggest fallers were Rio Tinto down 201p at 5,185p; Anglo American down 93.5p at 3,228p; Sainsbury’s down 8.4p at 290.7p; Glencore down 10.25p at 383p and BAE Systems down 15p at 577.2p.