Circle shares hit as it pulls out of hospital deal

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(Close): Shares in Circle Holdings closed down 25% after it said it would pull out of the contract to run Hinchingbrooke hospital.

Circle was the first private healthcare firm to run an NHS hospital trust, but it said the contract was "no longer sustainable" because of funding cuts and increased demand for A&E services.

The trend among majors was lower. The FTSE 100 ended 68.82 down at 6501.14.

Good jobs data from the US failed to buoy the mood.

Official jobs data showed the US ended its best year for hiring in 15 years with another 252,000 jobs being created in December.

Shares in housebuilders were hit by downgrades from broker Jefferies.

The company said shares in the sector were likely to be weak in the first quarter of the year following signs of the slowdown in the market.

It downgraded its ratings on Barratt Developments, Berkeley and Persimmon to "underperform".

Shares in Barratt Developments fell 5%, Persimmon dropped 5% and Berkeley was 4.2% lower.

Investors are waiting for the latest set of US jobs figures due out later. Analysts are expecting the US economy to have added about 240,000 jobs last month.

On the currency markets, the pound rose 0.4% against the dollar to $1.5141, and climbed 0.26% against the euro to €1.2829.