London Report: Interest rate hike threat takes shine off FTSE’s bull run

THE UK’S FTSE 100 eased off eight month highs yesterday after strong jobs data raised the spectre of interest rate hikes and analysts highlighted concerns about companies' weak earnings and high valuations.

Data showed the unemployment rate dropped to 7.1 per cent in the three months to November, below even the most optimistic analyst forecast and just a decimal point above the threshold where the Bank of England has said it may think about raising interest rates.

The FTSE 100 share index, meanwhile, closed down 7.93 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6,826.33 points, holding around 40 points below Tuesday’s eight month high and lagging euro zone’s EuroStoxx 50.

Royal Bank of Scotland fell 3.1 per cent after UBS downgraded the stock to “sell” from “neutral”.

Shares in William Hill, which issued a trading update last week, suffered after HSBC cut its price target to 350 pence, which was below current levels.

Brewing giant SABMiller fell for a second day after Tuesday’s disappointing sales figures.