Markets slumped to a six-week low on Tuesday as investors trimmed positions and scaled back risk appetite ahead of minutes of the latest US policy meeting due out tomorrow.
The FTSE 100 dropped to an intraday low of around 6,400 early on after a series of disappointing corporate earnings, but rallied strongly in afternoon trade to finish at 6,453.46, down just 12.27 points on the day. Still, the last time the London benchmark closed lower was on July 8th when it finished the day at 6,450.07
"Even though we've seen losses across Europe today, markets have pulled off their worst levels as bond yields, which jumped sharply yesterday, are slipping back today, and that has limited the downside," said Senior Market Analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets.
After rising to a fresh two-year high of 2.89% yesterday, the yield on a benchmark 10-year US Treasury pulled back to the 2.82% mark today. However, they will likely remain in focus until they fall further from current elevated levels, having surged by 34 basis points over the last month alone.
Bond and equity markets have been choppy over recent weeks given the heightened speculation that the Fed will begin to taper it quantitative easing programme at the next Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in September.
FTSE 100: Wood Group drops on cautious outlook
Oil and gas services company Wood Group fell to a seven-week low today after scaling back its full-year EBITA growth guidance for its engineering division from 15% to "10-15%", reflecting some project delays and further weakening in Canada. The firm however said that it expects to meet full-year expectations on the whole.
CRH also fell sharply after swinging to a loss for the half-year period. The building materials firm reported a loss before tax of €71m, down from €102m the year before, while sales fell 3.0% to €8.01bn.
Mining stocks were broadly out of favour today as results from BHP Billiton and Glencore Xstrata failed to impress. BHP said lower commodity prices wiped $8.9bn off its underlying earnings which plunged 22.4% in the year to the end of June, while Glencore Xstrata was forced to write down $7.7bn in assets as it reported a 9.0% drop in first-half adjusted EBITDA.
Even housebuilder Persimmon fell into the red despite a strong jump early on. The company said that first-half profits jumped 38% and its order book was running 21% ahead of last year as the government's 'Help to Buy' scheme boosted demand.
A number financial stocks were also lower today with Prudential and Standard Chartered among the heaviest fallers given the concerns about money pouring out of emerging markets.
Terrestrial broadcaster ITV was among the best performers today after Morgan Stanley raised its target price for the stock, saying the business could benefit from an upswing in UK advertising as the economic recovery gathers momentum.
Meggitt, the engineering group working in the aerospace, defence and energy markets, was slightly higher after Investec upgraded the stock from 'add' to 'buy', saying it still sees further upside even after a strong performance this year.
FTSE 250: Fisher, NMC Health, Evraz
James Fisher, the worldwide marine services firm, was on the rise after revealing that it had sold 25% of its stake in Foreland Holdings and acquired Osiris, a diving and sub-sea services firm.
Growth in referrals and patient numbers helped Abu Dhabi healthcare and distribution group NMC Health to a strong first-half result, prompting a strong rise in shares.
As on the top tier index, miners on the FTSE 250 were providing a drag, with steel group EVRAZ dropping sharply, along with Kenmare Resources and Hochschild Mining.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,184.00p +2.33%
BT Group (BT.A) 328.20p +1.86%
ITV (ITV) 161.90p +1.82%
Compass Group (CPG) 870.00p +1.46%
National Grid (NG.) 743.50p +1.36%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,662.00p +1.03%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 1,978.00p +1.02%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,362.00p +0.96%
Meggitt (MGGT) 537.50p +0.94%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 3,224.00p +0.91%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 831.00p -7.97%
Prudential (PRU) 1,148.00p -3.20%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,479.00p -2.76%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,173.00p -2.25%
CRH (CRH) 1,394.00p -2.24%
Experian (EXPN) 1,178.00p -1.83%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 378.80p -1.74%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,923.50p -1.66%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 73.80p -1.60%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 297.15p -1.59%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,057.00p +5.86%
NMC Health (NMC) 348.50p +5.61%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 337.00p +4.27%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 197.50p +3.13%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,070.00p +2.59%
Law Debenture Corp. (LWDB) 473.00p +1.83%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,090.00p +1.68%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 168.60p +1.57%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 565.00p +1.35%
Berendsen (BRSN) 867.50p +1.34%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Evraz (EVR) 115.00p -6.58%
Perform Group (PER) 520.50p -5.28%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 335.40p -4.91%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 263.10p -4.50%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 132.80p -3.91%
Domino Printing Sciences (DNO) 675.00p -3.78%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 29.70p -3.51%
Renishaw (RSW) 1,706.00p -3.40%
Inchcape (INCH) 612.00p -3.39%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 225.50p -3.18%