A poor performance from mining and financial stocks ensured that Footsie ended with triple-digit losses.
Insurer Prudential, which saw a surge in US business but posted a fall in UK sales, was a heavy faller. The Pru lifted group-wide retail sales by 10% to £699m in the third quarter thanks largely to a surge in business in the US. Retail sales leapt 66% in the US to a record £249m, easily offsetting a 22% decline to £157m in the UK. Sales in Asia rose 4% to £293m.
Legal & General fell in sympathy, but elsewhere in the sector Friends provident defies the trend to post the biggest rise among FTSE 100 constituents.
Miners such as Xstrata, Lonmin and Kazakhmys were sharply lower in line with weaker metal prices.
Mining giant Rio Tinto has paid $388m for another 9.8% of Canada's Ivanhoe Mines after completing the second tranche of its private placement investment, taking its total interest to 19.7%.
Banking stocks have reacted badly to the prospect of a resurgent Northern Rock. Barclays and Lloyds Banking fell sharply after the European Union approved the UK government's plans to create a 'bad bank' to take over the risky assets on Northern Rock's books.
Rumours persist that supermarket giant Tesco is interested in buying what would remain of Northern Rock after the demerging of the 'bad bank'. Tesco's banking arm announced today it would open a call centre in Northern Rock's Newcastle heartlands, creating 1,000 new jobs.
EU approval of the Northern Rock plan opens up the possibility that the government may try the same trick with part-nationalised lenders Lloyds Banking and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Strong sales in emerging markets helped drug giant GlaxoSmithKline post a rise in revenues in the third quarter. Pre-tax profits in the three months to September 30 totalled £2.065m, compared with £1.913m over the same period the previous year as turnover climbed to £6.758m from £5.882m.
Drugs leviathan AstraZeneca - which reports third quarter results tomorrow - has yanked the US and European regulatory submissions for its lung cancer treatment Zactima. The applications were submitted in June but after further analysis of test results no overall survival advantage was discerned when chemotherapy treatment was augmented by a dose of Zactima.
BG Group has reported a drop in third quarter pre-tax profit to £838m from £1.53bn a year ago, with nine-month profit down to £3bn from £4.20bn. The oil giant said net income fell to £484m in the three months to September, down from £857m the same time last year.
Tobacco firm British American Tobacco said it performed well in the nine months to the end of September, although total volume growth has slowed. Revenue for the nine months grew strongly in constant currency terms, it added, driven by the continued good pricing momentum and volume growth from acquisitions.
Gas supplier Centrica has received planning permission for the construction of a wind farm project off the coast of Lincolnshire. US investment management company TCW has agreed to pay £84m for a 50% equity stake in Centrica's Lynn, Inner Dowsing and Glens of Foudland wind farms, the company added.
Drugs giant AstraZeneca is lower after saying it has yanked the US and European regulatory submissions for its lung cancer treatment Zactima. The applications were submitted in June but after further analysis of test results no overall survival advantage was discerned when chemotherapy treatment was augmented by a dose of Zactima. However, peer GlaxoSmithKline, whose third quarter results are due later today, climbs higher.
Broker comment has lifted telecoms giants BT and Vodafone. Barclays Capital has started coverage of the European telecoms sector with a price target of 169p for BT and a 168p price target for Vodafone. Cable & Wireless also gets the thumbs up from BarCap.
Dana Petroleum has discovered oil at the Jetta prospect offshore Norway, though tests will have to determine if the discovery is commercial.
Floor coverings retailer Carpetright expects half-year results to be ahead of expectations after sales growth put on a spurt in the last six weeks. The UK and the Republic of Ireland put in a strong performance but the economic downturn contributed to a slump in sales in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Electronic components maker Laird has confirmed recent press speculation that it is considering an equity issue.
US private equity group Texas Pacific (TPG) has sold its remaining 9% stake in department store Debenhams to an unknown investor for £100m. TPG took Debenhams private in 2003 along with fellow private equity group CVC. They were later joined by Merrill Lynch Private Equity and floated the company three years later.
Henderson Group has announced that Emily Adderson will replace Guy de Blonay as portfolio manager of Henderson Financial Opportunities. Adderson has been the assistant portfolio manager on both the company and the open-ended New Star Global Financials Fund.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Friends Provident Group (FP.) 80.95p +2.53%
Tesco (TSCO) 403.40p +1.91%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 277.40p +1.28%
Diageo (DGE) 969.50p +1.09%
Centrica (CNA) 246.30p +0.86%
National Grid (NG.) 602.50p +0.84%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 569.00p +0.62%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 138.25p +0.33%
G4S (GFS) 248.20p +0.32%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,070.00p +0.09%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Prudential (PRU) 550.50p -9.83%
Xstrata (XTA) 882.00p -9.40%
Man Group (EMG) 301.00p -9.15%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 1,113.00p -9.07%
Lonmin (LMI) 1,513.00p -8.36%
Wolseley (WOS) 1,267.00p -7.25%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 2,673.00p -6.88%
Barclays (BARC) 319.00p -6.12%
Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC) 851.00p -6.07%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,674.00p -6.06%
FTSE 250 - Risers
AG Barr (BAG) 840.00p +3.32%
Robert Wiseman (RWD) 463.10p +3.09%
Cranswick (CWK) 710.00p +2.90%
Genus (GNS) 681.00p +2.79%
Rank Group (RNK) 89.60p +2.22%
PayPoint (PAY) 468.00p +2.07%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 256.70p +1.82%
Rathbone Brothers (RAT) 930.50p +1.69%
Melrose Resources (MRS) 368.10p +1.66%
Forth Ports (FPT) 1,140.00p +1.60%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Yell Group (YELL) 46.34p -11.73%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 210.80p -10.56%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 35.71p -10.37%
Inchcape (INCH) 29.60p -9.95%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 116.00p -9.94%
Laird (LRD) 180.00p -9.64%
Northgate (NTG) 220.00p -8.60%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 743.00p -8.33%
Aveva Group (AVV) 892.00p -8.04%
CSR (CSR) 402.10p -7.78%