UK stocks were sitting firmly in negative territory by midday on Monday, pushed into decline by concerns over a stricter mortgage policy introduced in China in an effort to curb soaring property prices.
The news prompted declines amongst resources stocks on fears demand for building materials could be affected.
Meanwhile, it was also revealed this morning that just £13.8bn was drawn down from the Bank of England (BoE) Funding-for-Lending Scheme (FLS) last year. The research also showed that net lending to UK households and business by FLS participants fell by £2.4bn during the three month period, compared to a rise of £0.9bn the previous quarter.
In a statement the BoE said that funding costs have "fallen significantly" since the announcement of the scheme and there are indications of an improvement in credit conditions, with loan rates falling.
"But it will take time for this to feed through to lending volumes, given the typical lags involved in the loan application, approval and drawdown process," it admitted. The news helped push Lloyds and Barclays into the red.
Also affecting the mood was the news that Markit's construction PMI fell at its quickest pace in three years in February, down to 46.8, compared to 48.7 the previous month. The consensus had been for 49.0. Anything below 50 indicates a contraction.
In other news, the budget sequester in the US is in 'full-swing' after US President Barack Obama and Republicans failed to reach an agreement to avoid 85bn dollars in automatic federal budget cuts which will come into effect throughout what remains of this fiscal year.
On a more positive note, and according to The Sunday Times, France and Germany may be willing to show flexibility on caps for bankers' bonuses. The proposal from Brussels, last week, could see thousands of jobs lost in the British financial sector, as foreign institutions look to avoid the limits by moving outside of London and the European Union. As well, European institutions may be placed at a very serious disadvantage versus foreign competitors.
Acting as a backdrop, and highlighting the political risk which exists in the Eurozone, according to The Wall Street Journal Portugal is now seeking to renegotiate parts of its international bail-out agreement. This comes on the heels of comments to the press from the Chief Economist of Germany's IFO institute, Hans Werner Sinn, regarding the possibility that Greece and Portugal may be forced to leave the single currency area.
FTSE 100: GKN leaps on upgrade
rose into the top spot after Goldman Sachs raised its target price from 195p to 272p and upgraded the stock from sell to neutral.
Emerging markets focused lender HSBC has this morning reported a profit before tax of $20.6bn (£13.73bn), down 6% on 2011, including $5.2bn of adverse fair value movements on own debt. The consensus estimate had been calling for a profit before tax of £14.272bn. The group reported a record year in commercial banking, with reported profit before tax of $8.5bn, up 7%. Underlying revenues for the group were valued at $63.5bn (£42.3bn), up 7%. This was slightly below consensus expectations.
Miners were generally weaker this morning on the back of news out from China. Anglo American was a big faller after analysts at Nomura lowered their rating on the shares to reduce from neutral.
Distribution and outsourcing group Bunzl has acquired Brazilian outfit Labor Import Comercial Importadora Exportadora.
Revenue rose by 17% to £2.1bn in the full year ended December 31st at safety services provider Intertek, prompting shares to rise. The company reported that operating profit increased by 19% to £335m with constant currency organic profit growth of 11.2%.
FTSE 250: Debenhams tumbles on profit warning
High Street retailer Debenhams has admitted its UK business had been 'severely disrupted' by the snow in the latter part of January. The group said that whilst group like-for-like sales grew by around 3.0% for the 26 weeks to March 2nd, during the snow-affected period of January 14th-27th UK like-for-like sales were down by around 10%.
Defence, security and energy outfit Ultra Electronics has announced full year underlying pre-tax profits of £115.6m, with revenues up 4.0% at £760m.
Specialist insurance and reinsurance underwriting group Amlin announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire RaetsMarine, a managing general agent ranked in the top three global providers of fixed premium P&I business.
FTSE 100 - Risers
GKN (GKN) 275.40p +2.23%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,313.00p +2.10%
Centrica (CNA) 362.50p +2.08%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,457.00p +1.53%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,557.50p +1.41%
Capita (CPI) 870.50p +1.40%
WPP (WPP) 1,071.00p +1.23%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,437.00p +1.16%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,261.00p +1.12%
Shire Plc (SHP) 2,096.00p +1.01%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 556.00p -5.76%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,319.00p -3.57%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 51.36p -3.55%
Next (NXT) 4,106.00p -3.32%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 325.40p -2.84%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,847.00p -2.79%
Xstrata (XTA) 1,095.50p -2.79%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 708.50p -2.69%
Glencore International (GLEN) 367.30p -2.56%
Aviva (AV.) 347.60p -2.50%
FTSE 250 - Risers
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 820.00p +2.50%
CSR (CSR) 479.70p +2.26%
Dialight (DIA) 1,270.00p +2.25%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 28.47p +2.15%
Ted Baker (TED) 1,265.00p +2.02%
Perform Group (PER) 420.00p +1.94%
Playtech Ltd. (PTEC) 567.50p +1.70%
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 253.50p +1.64%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 34.50p +1.44%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 516.00p +1.18%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Debenhams (DEB) 83.60p -11.63%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 209.80p -6.26%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 120.20p -4.83%
Carillion (CLLN) 293.30p -4.77%
Lonmin (LMI) 342.60p -3.71%
Pace (PIC) 225.60p -3.59%
AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI) (AZEM) 370.50p -3.47%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 265.30p -3.42%
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 90.55p -3.36%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 671.00p -3.31%