Markets end week in wait-and-see mode

Heading into the close the FTSE 100 is down 15 points, with the index set to finish the week around the 6600 level.

European equities slide

Equities slid lower towards the close of business as traders tried to work out their next move, while a lack of corporate and economic news has prevented dealers from getting off the fence. A number of investors are taking profits from yesterday's rally, but there is no strong opinion either way.

RBS is in the red after the part-nationalised lender reduced its position in Direct Line, the latest step in the asset-stripping programme to raise cash and bolster its balance sheet. European equity traders are also sitting on their hands ahead of the German election, where chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to be re-elected. But the key question is, who will be junior partner in the coalition?

Dow down ahead of Fed statements

Across the pond, the Dow Jones is down 30 points at 15,606 as traders unwind their position ahead of statements from the Federal Reserve this afternoon. The bulls know they got lucky when Ben Bernanke kept the QE scheme unchanged on Wednesday, so they are not rolling the dice again.

Apple iPhone fever has gripped the high street again, after the latest model went on sale today. It appears that Apple's loyal customers are more excited about the news than its shareholders, with the stock up just 0.8%.

Commoditiy prices fall

Metal prices are softer today as the feelgood factor from the Fed's lack of tapering wears off. The sell-off in commodities is not just limited to metals, with energy products also hit by profit-taking.

US dollar regains ground

The US dollar is slowly but surely pulling back the ground it has given up since Wednesday, while the Aussie dollar is in decline with traders wary of the Chinese manufacturing figure, which is due in the early hours of Monday morning (London time).

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