Weaker US inflation boosts sterling against the dollar
The pound reached its highest level against the US dollar since last week's general election as weaker American inflation and retail sales data weighed on the greenback.
Sterling shot up 0.4% versus the US dollar to reach 1.280 for the first time since June 8, but fell 0.16% against the euro to trade at 1.135.
Sterling's ascent against the dollar weighed on listed multinationals on the FTSE 100, which tend to benefit when foreign currencies are stronger. London's blue chip index fell 0.35% or 26.04 points at 7,474.4.
US data released yesterday showed inflation contracting by 0.1% in May, while month-on-month retail sales fell by 0.3%.
Investors were also awaiting an interest rate decision from the US Federal Reserve.
Jasper Lawler, a senior market analyst at London Capital Group, said: "A double dose of soft economic data sent the US dollar plunging and gold rallying before the Federal Reserve rate decision.
"Slowing inflation and flat retail sales add to the growing sense today's meeting could see the last US rate rise this year."
Across Europe, the French Cac 40 fell into the red to end the day down 0.35%, while the German Dax rose 0.3%.
In oil markets, Brent crude prices tumbled 2.8% to $46.88 per barrel as Energy Information Administration (EIA) data pointed to larger than expected US gas and crude inventories and forecast that energy supplies from non-Opec members would outstrip demand next year.
Commodity stocks followed crude prices lower to hold the bottom spots on the FTSE 100.
Anglo American fell 28.5p to 1,059p, while Glencore dropped 7.65p to 286.65p, and Rio Tinto slumped 75p to 3,142.5p.
Elsewhere, Mulberry Group shares tumbled 49p to 1,100p despite reporting a 21% rise in annual pre-tax profits to £7.5m and an 8% rise in revenue.
Experts said investors were disappointed by weak like-for-like sales at the start of the new financial year.
WH Smith shares jumped 47p to 1,791p as the retailer reported an 8% rise in total sales in the 15 weeks to June 10.
And Gemfields shares surged 5.25p to 40.75p after the Chinese conglomerate Fosun tabled a £220m takeover offer for the Faberge owner.