UK stocks : FTSE 100 index loses 0.3 pct
The FTSE 100 index was down 16.24 points, or 0.3 percent, at 5,929.61, having closed 0.4 percent higher at a nine-month closing peak on Wednesday following six days of consecutive gains.
The index recovered slightly in afternoon trading from early falls following encouraging unemployment and retail data from the United States.
However, shares fell back towards the intraday trough of 5,918 after U.S. House Speaker John Boehner accused President Barack Obama of being willing to "slow walk" the economy towards fiscal crisis.
The index dropped 0.27 percent in the 12 minutes after his comments.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had set the tone for the day's trading, warning that monetary policy won't be enough to offset damage if politicians fail to avert the "fiscal cliff" of steep tax hikes and budget cuts which could throw the world's biggest economy into recession.
"Following the mixed figures that we got from the U.S., the FTSE 100 is in consolidation mode at the moment," said Myro Sokou, senior research analyst at Sucden Financial.
"We got quite good weekly jobless claims, while retail sales were fairly in line with expectations. However I think the main focus at the moment is the fiscal cliff discussions," she added, noting that volume on the index was thin.
AstraZeneca was the most heavily traded stock in the index, trading over twice its 90-day daily
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