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London ends lower as all eyes turn to payroll data in the US

THE FTSE 100 closed lower yesterday, weighed down by energy stocks, though with a rally from miners limited losses ahead of today&rsquo;s key US non-farm payroll figures. The index closed the session down 20.80 points, or 0.4 percent, at 4,796.75, having traded lower on the first two days of September.<br /><br />But the recent powerful rally, which saw the large-cap index rise 6.5 per cent in August, and 39 per cent since a six-year trough in March, may not have run out of steam.<br /><br />&ldquo;Mining stocks are up on the leaderboard and that would indicate that there is still plenty of appetite out there to get into risky stocks, so you can&rsquo;t quite say yet that the bull run&rsquo;s over,&rdquo; said Angus Campbell, head of sales at Capital Spreads.<br /><br />Investors were looking to Friday's latest US non-farm payroll figures for a sense of direction.<br /><br />&ldquo;People are waiting for something to show that there is an opportunity here to buy, or whether this is a signal to get out, and take the money and run for the time being,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Energy stocks proved the biggest drag on the FTSE 100, and were under pressure as crude steadied around the $68 level. <strong>Royal Dutch Shell, BP</strong> and <strong>BG Group</strong> dropped 0.9 to 1.2 per cent.<br /><br />Investors also shunned stocks perceived as safe havens, with <strong>GlaxoSmithKline</strong> down 2.2 per cent and <strong>British American Tobacco</strong> 2.1 per cent weaker.<br /><br />Mining stocks led the gainers, proving an anchor for the FTSE 100 as metals prices rose.<br /><br />Gold miner <strong>Randgold Resources</strong> was the stand out gainer, up 9 per cent as precious metal prices gained amid caution ahead of the US jobs report.<br /><br /><strong>Fresnillo, Lonmin, Xstrata</strong> and <strong>Vedanta Resources</strong> added 3.9 to 8.6 per cent.<br /><br />Life insurers were in favour, rebounding after falls the previous session, with <strong>Prudential, Old Mutual</strong> and <strong>Standard Life</strong> putting on 0.4 to 1.9 per cent.<br /><br />Banks also recovered after weakness on Wednesday. <strong>Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC</strong> and <strong>Lloyds Banking Group</strong> rose between 0.3 to 3.2 per cent.<br /><br />In economics news, activity in the services sector grew at its fastest pace in nearly two years in August with the services PMI rising to 54.1, above the 53.9 forecast.<br /><br />The European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged at a record low of 1.0 per cent, and said now was not the time to withdraw state support as economies emerge slowly from recession.