( AFP ) - Leading shares closed down on Friday, having extended losses in afternoon deals as Wall Street dropped following a weak consumer confidence reading and disappointing results from General Electric, while UK banks again weighed in London.
The FTSE 100 index closed off 69.6 points at 5,895.5, having fallen almost 100 points following the Wall Street open, while the FTSE 250 dropped 81.6 points to close at 9,931.4.
Vodafone was the day's most traded stock, seeing 254 million shares change hands, followed by BP, which saw 61.2 million switch owners.
But the mobile telecommunications company was the day's second worst performer, down 6.9 pence -- or 4.34 percent -- at 152.2.
In London, banking issues again weighed on the Footsie amid ongoing fears over the health of the global economy.
Barclays closed off 1.25 pence at 453, Lloyds TSB dipped 13.25 at 433, Royal Bank of Scotland was 3.25 lower at 359 and HBOS was down 9.5 at 507.
Insurer Friends Provident was also in the doldrums -- 4.8 pence weaker at 130.6 -- after the Financial Times reported U.S. private equity firm JC Flowers may not pursue its 3.5 billion pound bid for the company if the embattled life assurer refuses to enter into talks.
Friends has said the bid is too low and there is no basis for talks.
But the main casualty was BAE Systems, dropping almost 5 percent with a loss of 24.25 pence to land at 475 following a media report that the defence company is leaning towards appointing a candidate from outside the company as chief executive, in an attempt to break from past allegations of corruption.
BAE remains under investigation over four international deals, and the High Court on Thursday ruled that the Serious Fraud Office unlawfully ended another investigation into BAE's dealings with Saudi Arabia, raising the possibility that this case may be reopened.
Elsewhere, Cadbury Schweppes shed 15 pence to 563.5 after the group released a trading update that prompted Numis Securities put its rating under review, describing the update as "disappointing".
Numis noted the group's sales in the United Kingdom were up 3 percent, which it said is not a great performance given Easter was in the first quarter and the group made price increases to offset higher commodity costs.
British Airways slipped back 4.75 pence to 223.5 as further news emerged from the Heathrow Terminal 5 debacle.
British Energy extended recent gains, ticking up 1.5 pence to 741, as rumours RWE is about to pay 775 pence for the company resurfaced.
One London dealer said this seems high given reports EDF is only willing to pay 700 pence.
Fellow utility plays also gained, with International Power, the day's second best performer, up 12.5 pence -- or 2.98 percent -- at 432.5 and Scottish & Southern Energy 30 pence higher at 1,390. Scottish and Southern was also in the news after agreeing with the UK.
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to provide additional support for vulnerable electricity and gas customers to March 2011. Several utility firms have signed the deal.
Elsewhere, miners put in a mixed performance. Vedanta Resources was the day's top blue chip riser, jumping 85 pence -- or 3.73 percent -- to end at 2,365.
The rise took place after Goldman Sachs raised its price target to 2,660 from 2,630 and upped its earnings estimates for the group, following Thursday's production volumes update and the recent completion of a stake purchase.
The broker maintained its 'buy' recommendation.