- FTSE closes down 64.62 points at 6,620.90
- Banks, G4S drag, copper price boosts miners
- Minimum wage increased by 19p
techMARK 2,817.28 -1.20%
FTSE 100 6,620.90 -0.97%
FTSE 250 16,326.70 -0.94%
The City ended on a downbeat note today, as banks and G4S dragged, multiple big names went ex-dividend, and the situation in Ukraine rumbled on.
The FTSE 100 ended the day 64.62 points lower at 6,620.90 - a decline of 91.77 on the week.
As IG Group's Chris Beauchamp said: "Equity markets have come under pressure around the world as copper prices continue to fall following weak economic data from China. Although copper prices have bounced slightly today, the drop through three-year lows yesterday unnerved markets.
"Throw in some headlines about Russian movements in Crimea, and you have the recipe for a continuing sell-off."
Following data released earlier this week from China which revealed a surprise trade deficit in February as exports slumped, worries over credit conditions were ignited by reports of a possible second onshore debt default by another solar power firm in the country.
Investors are also looking ahead to data due tomorrow which is likely to show that Chinese industrial output growth eased slightly last month.
Ukraine also continued to be a focal point for markets today as Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk met with US President Barack Obama in Washington ahead of the looming Crimea referendum on March 16th on whether or not to split from Ukraine and join Russia. The G7 leaders have said they will not recognise the results of the referendum.
"What we're seeing now is markets on the whole being driven by investor sentiment and as long as we don't see anything positive to act as a distraction from Ukraine and China, sentiment is likely to remain low, as we're seeing again today," said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.
Late in the afternoon Interfax reported that US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Russian counterpart in London, this Friday, to discuss the Ukrainian crisis.
Back in the UK...
As many as a quarter of payday lenders are expected to quit the business as regulators gear up to impose tighter rules on the market from the beginning of next month.
The Financial Conduct Authority FCA, which is due to take over as the UK's financial regulator on April 1st, has prioritised the much criticised short-term, high-interest lending market as one of the first things on its agenda.
In other news, minimum wage has been increased to £6.50, up 19p from its previous level.
G4S disappoints with 'extremely challenging year'
G4S failed to impress with its 2013 results after an 'extremely challenging year' which saw the security solutions provider swing to a statutory pre-tax loss of £170m, from a profit of £313m in 2012.
A number of heavyweight FTSE 100 stocks were lower after going ex-dividend, including Hammerson, Meggitt, British American Tobacco, and Standard Chartered.
Meanwhile, insurance giant Prudential was in positive territory after reporting a 17% rise in operating profit to £2.96m and a 15% increase in the full-year dividend after a "strong performance in 2013".
Miners rose from earlier losses as metal prices bounced back, with copper in particular stabilising, prompting Antofagasta, Fresnillo, and Rio Tinto to all rise strongly. The price of copper climbed 0.68% to $2.97 a pound on the May futures contract.
In addition to weak Chinese data, the rising price was attributed to a tightening of supply levels, with Commerzbank saying it may have been oversold.
Shares of single price value general retailer Poundland performed well on their first morning of trade, with shares
rising to their best level of the day, at 392p, by early afternoon.
Looking ahead to Thursday
Morrison Supermarkets will be in the spotlight tomorrow as the UK grocer is expected to report its lowest annual profit in five years.
The company may report a pre-tax profit of £783m in the year to February 2nd 2014, down 13% on the £901m it made a year earlier, according to the consensus forecast.
Also on the agenda will be a number of economic reports due out in the US, including Bloomberg consumer confidence, business inventories
continuing claims, import and export price indexes, initial jobless claims, manufacturing inventories, and retail sales.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Prudential (PRU) 1,398.00p +2.72%
Fresnillo (FRES) 900.00p +2.04%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 853.50p +1.61%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 229.55p +1.46%
William Hill (WMH) 381.40p +1.41%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,927.00p +1.17%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,102.00p +1.01%
Kingfisher (KGF) 402.90p +0.98%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 233.00p +0.95%
TUI Travel (TT.) 432.20p +0.63%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
G4S (GFS) 232.50p -5.26%
Hammerson (HMSO) 549.50p -3.93%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,203.00p -3.68%
Meggitt (MGGT) 449.50p -3.56%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,218.00p -3.49%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,339.00p -3.32%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 1,032.00p -3.28%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 288.00p -3.10%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 599.20p -2.82%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 2,959.00p -2.57%
FTSE 250 - Risers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 260.00p +4.00%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,527.00p +3.67%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 144.20p +3.59%
Foxtons Group (FOXT) 384.50p +2.26%
Riverstone Energy Limited (RSE) 920.00p +2.22%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 697.50p +2.20%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 437.10p +1.89%
Hiscox Ltd (HSX) 674.00p +1.74%
Interserve (IRV) 644.00p +1.42%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 305.20p +1.26%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 13.55p -6.55%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 539.00p -5.77%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 100.10p -4.76%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 254.90p -4.60%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,330.00p -4.32%
Domino Printing Sciences (DNO) 763.00p -3.78%
Serco Group (SRP) 445.00p -3.76%
RPS Group (RPS) 329.10p -3.46%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 386.70p -3.33%
Savills (SVS) 595.00p -3.25%