The jobs data provided a glimmer of hope for the UK economy even as uncertainty over the nation’s divorce from the European Union grows.
But the session’s downbeat tone was set earlier after China warned that falling factory orders pointed to a further drop in activity in coming months and more job-shedding in the country.
This came after the world’s No. 2 economy reported on Monday its lowest annual economic growth since 1990.
Ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the International Monetary Fund trimmed its global growth forecasts, adding to gloom across global financial markets, and a survey showed increasing pessimism among business chiefs as trade tensions loomed.
Oil .FTNMX0530 and mining .FTNMX1770 stocks were the worst performers, down 1.3 and 1.1 percent respectively, as the sour mood weighed on crude and metal prices.
Shell (RDSa.L) slipped 1.7 percent and was the main drag on the blue chips, after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to “underweight” in a note that highlighted worries about the oil major’s cash-intensive pledge for share buybacks, dividends and debt reduction.
Banks .FTNMX8350 fell 1 percent on track for their worst day in over two weeks, as weak results from Switzerland’s UBS (UBSG.S) deepened concerns about the pain across the sector from low interest rates and rising political uncertainty.
EasyJet (EZJ.L) surged 6.3 percent, on track for its best day since January 2015, as investors cheered news the budget airline maintained its full-year outlook even after counting the cost of the drone disruption at Gatwick airport in December.
“The drone disruption at Gatwick in December means these results aren’t quite what easyJet was hoping for at the start of the year, but it hasn’t blown things too far off course,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Nicholas Hyett.
Mid-caps saw a slew of trading updates which helped drive individual moves.
Online trading platform IG Group (IGG.L) was down 7.1 percent at the bottom of the index as regulatory clampdown led to a 17 percent fall in its first-half profit. It earlier hit a one-month low and dragged rival Plus500 (PLUSP.L) down 1.3 percent.
Dixons Carphone (DC.L), which hit near decade lows earlier this month amid worries about the poor state of the UK high street, jumped 3.4 percent as investors welcomed signs that the retailer’s turnaround plan was making progress.
“In pretty nasty conditions, these latest numbers from Dixons Carphone are as good as could be hoped,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Laith Khalaf.
Pets at Home (PETSP.L) surged 7.7 percent to its highest since May after reporting a rise in quarterly revenue on higher demand for its pet products and grooming services.
Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Muvija M in Bengaluru; editing by Josephine Mason and Ed Osmond