London's benchmark index dropped one per cent on Wednesday as investors trimmed positions and took cover ahead of the risk event of the week, the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting due out later this evening.
The FTSE 100 ended 62.62 points lower on the day at 6,390.84, a fall of 0.97%. The last time it closed below this level was on July 5th when it finished at 6,375.52.
Stocks heavily exposed to emerging markets (some fund managers and financials, for instance) came under heavy selling pressure today as money continued to pour out of regions in anticipation of the Federal Reserve tapering its stimulus programme in September. Both the Turkish lira and Indian rupee fell to fresh all-time lows today against the dollar.
Upbeat data today showing better-than-expected growth in US existing home sales in July is also likely to have thrown more weight behind the argument to trim asset purchases soon as the economic recovery continues to gather momentum.
"Data in the US has improved since the previous Fed policy meeting but more importantly, various Fed-members U-turned on accommodative easing measures," said Market Strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital.
"Fedspeak over the past month suggests greater unity on the FOMC with now more members endorsing a reduction in asset purchases by the Fed. In fact, it's Fedspeak that has almost convinced the market that September tapering is now inevitable."
UK data was in focus this morning with public-sector accounts excluding financial interventions showing a deficit of around £0.1bn in July, according to the Office for National Statistics, surprising the consensus who had estimated a surplus of £2.9bn. This was the first July since 2010 that the government has recorded a budget deficit as spending increased.
FTSE 100: IHG leads fallers after going ex-div
Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza owner InterContinental Hotels Group was a heavy faller on Wednesday after going ex-dividend meaning that new investors won't be able to get their hands on the company's latest dividend payment. A number of other heavyweight stocks also went ex-dividend today, including British American Tobacco, Capita, Hammerson, Prudential and Carnival.
Oil and gas engineering firm Wood Group was also sharply lower, extending losses after it scaled back full-year guidance for one of its divisions yesterday. Deutsche Bank trimmed its target price for the stock today.
Continued pressure on emerging-market assets were hitting financial peers Aberdeen, HSBC and Old Mutual today.
A reduction in risk appetite was also affecting mining stocks today with Fresnillo, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto all in the red. Glencore Xstrata however was bucking the trend, rebounding after some heavy losses the day before after the company disappointed with its first-half results.
Standard Life was also higher after receiving an upgrade by both Credit Suisse and Bank of America. The latter raised its rating from 'underperform' to 'neutral' after a recent drop in the share price, saying that the company "remains well placed for regulatory changes and its asset management business should continue to attract inflows".
Terrestrial broadcaster ITV was being helped higher by comments from Galvan Research which said: "After a multi-year bear market for the shares, there are still ample fundamental and charting positives to keep the ITV turnaround story powering ahead."
FTSE 100 - Risers
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 304.75p +2.56%
Wolseley (WOS) 3,194.00p +2.24%
WPP (WPP) 1,191.00p +2.14%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 1,566.00p +1.36%
ITV (ITV) 163.70p +1.11%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 280.80p +0.79%
IMI (IMI) 1,409.00p +0.64%
Carnival (CCL) 2,427.00p +0.54%
Standard Life (SL.) 344.60p +0.50%
Experian (EXPN) 1,183.00p +0.42%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 1,845.00p -6.72%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 356.30p -5.94%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 682.00p -3.15%
Hammerson (HMSO) 488.10p -2.77%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,873.00p -2.63%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,320.00p -2.54%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 810.50p -2.47%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,234.00p -2.30%
Old Mutual (OML) 187.70p -2.19%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 2,987.00p -2.05%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 563.50p +4.64%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 138.50p +4.29%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 271.60p +3.23%
NMC Health (NMC) 359.00p +3.01%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,140.00p +2.98%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 330.00p +2.96%
Senior (SNR) 282.00p +2.55%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 42.77p +2.52%
Carpetright (CPR) 660.00p +2.48%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 283.60p +2.38%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 268.40p -5.02%
JPMorgan Indian Inv Trust (JII) 291.00p -3.32%
F&C Asset Management (FCAM) 102.80p -3.02%
Man Group (EMG) 81.50p -2.69%
Anite (AIE) 110.00p -2.65%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 570.00p -2.56%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 326.80p -2.56%
ICAP (IAP) 368.20p -2.52%
Salamander Energy (SMDR) 120.90p -2.50%
Catlin Group Ltd. (CGL) 460.90p -2.50%