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FTSE100 ends its best ever quarter with profit taking

THE top share index closed lower yesterday with energy stocks, banks and miners among the biggest laggards on the last session of a record quarter.<br /><br />The FTSE 100 closed down 25.82 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 5,133.90 as investors locked in profits after the index put in its best quarterly performance since it was launched in 1984.<br /><br />A negative for the market came in the form of the Chicago PMIdata, which showed business activity in the US Midwest region failed to return to growth in September as expected, and instead got slammed by a decline in production and new orders.<br /><br />A powerful rally over the course of the summer has seen UKblue chip stocks rise 20.8 per cent in the three months to September -- although the index is still 5.2 per cent below its level just over a year ago before the collapse of Lehman Brothers.<br /><br />&ldquo;With gains like that it&rsquo;s not surprising that there&rsquo;s a little bit of window dressing going on as we finally come down to the wire, and banks and miners have been spectacularly successful during the past quarter,&rdquo; said Jim Wood-Smith, head of research at Williams de Broe.<br /><br />Energy stocks were the biggest drag on blue chips on demand concerns after weak US consumer confidence data on Tuesday, although crude prices rose above $68 a barrel on the back of U.S. inventory data.<br /><br /><strong>BP, Royal Dutch Shell, BG Group,</strong> and <strong>Tullow Oil</strong> shed 0.7 to 2.3 per cent.<br /><br />UK miners were also under pressure, retreating after a rally earlier in the session, as profit takers moved in on a sector which has surged 26.5 per cent this past quarter.<br /><br /><strong>Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Fresnillo</strong> and <strong>Vedanta Resources</strong> dropped between 0.4 and 2.5 per cent.<br /><br />It was a similar story with banks which were broadly lower, falling back after gains earlier on which had been spurred as recent cash calls from peers reassured investors about the path of recovery.<br /><br />Heavyweight <strong>HSBC</strong> shed 1.4 per cent, while <strong>Lloyds Banking Group</strong> retreated 1.1 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Chartered,</strong> and <strong>Barclays, </strong>however, rose 0.2 to 1.8 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>Marks &amp; Spencer </strong>shed 3.4 per cent after a second-quarter trading update prompted profit-taking.<br /><br />Analysts said better-than-expected sales and profit margins were factored into a recent rally in M&amp;S shares, while a downgrade in its cost guidance was not.