Stocks pulled back from five-year highs on Wednesday morning as traders took profits after industrial production data from the Eurozone disappointed.
So far this year, the FTSE 100 index has gained nearly 10% and was yesterday trading near levels not seen since late 2007.
Weighing on markets this morning were ex-dividend stocks which were accounting for 10.71 points of the fall alone, as traders were unable to get their hands on the most recent payouts from a number of big-hitters, including Standard Chartered.
Industrial production in the single-currency euro area dropped by 0.4% month-on-month in January, compared with the prior months' 0.9% gain and the 0.1% fall expected by analysts. Output from the wider European Union also turned negative in January, falling 0.4%.
Meanwhile, a debt auction in Italy saw long-term funding costs rise as the Treasury sold its close to its maximum target of three-year and 15-year bonds.
"It was clear that Italy was going to have to pay more at this auction that they did previously, given the political uncertainty in the country since the elections last month and the recent downgrade by Fitch," said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.
In other news, Christian Menegatti, the head of research at Roubini Global Economics, has said that the Federal Reserve won't stop its quantitative easing programme before the end of 2014 as it will take time to get down to the 7.25% jobless rate signalled by the central bank.
FTSE 100: Ex-div stocks drop; G4S falls as CFO steps down
Emerging markets lender Standard Chartered was among the worst performers on the day today after going ex-dividend, along with British American Tobacco, Hargreaves Lansdown, Land Securities, Meggitt and Serco.
Security solutions group G4S was also out of favour after announcing the resignation of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Trevor Dighton. The news came as the firm unveiled a 10.4% rise in 2012 revenues despite taking a hit over its London Olympic contract blunder.
Heading the other way was insurance giant Prudential after reporting a 25% increase in operating profit in 2012. The company said its performance was largely driven by its "sweet-spot" markets including Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Shares in holiday company TUI Travel were being weighed down by reports that part-owner TUI AG is mulling sale of its 56.4% stake in the firm. According to Manager Magazin, the Germany group would use the proceeds to invest in tourism operations and return capital to shareholders.
Mid-cap movers: Thomas Cook rockets after strategy update
Travel firm Thomas Cook soared this morning after announcing its new profitable growth strategy, " focused on simplification, web innovation, flexible new products and services, enabled by rigorous execution and an integrated IT platform". The company said that its UK turnaround is on track as it announced further cost savings and laid out new medium-term targets.
Meanwhile, newly-listed insurance group Direct Line was under the weather on reports that RBS is looking to further reduce its stake in the company.
Infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty was lower after HSBC downgraded the shares
FTSE 100 - Risers
Prudential (PRU) 1,063.00p +3.30%
Intu Properties (INTU) 330.60p +0.95%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,402.00p +0.92%
Hammerson (HMSO) 510.00p +0.89%
Centrica (CNA) 355.40p +0.65%
Sage Group (SGE) 344.00p +0.47%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 350.80p +0.46%
National Grid (NG.) 744.00p +0.40%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 716.50p +0.35%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,640.00p +0.31%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,709.50p -4.42%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 528.50p -4.26%
G4S (GFS) 295.60p -3.87%
Evraz (EVR) 251.50p -3.53%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,090.00p -3.45%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,501.00p -3.10%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,163.00p -2.76%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 337.10p -2.60%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 927.00p -2.42%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,846.00p -2.12%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Man Group (EMG) 102.50p +4.38%
SDL (SDL) 454.90p +2.46%
Bumi (BUMI) 347.00p +2.45%
Regus (RGU) 158.30p +2.13%
Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB) 86.00p +1.90%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 254.50p +1.88%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 131.60p +1.62%
CSR (CSR) 496.50p +1.29%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 12 +1.27%
Soco International (SIA) 394.80p +1.23%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Petropavlovsk (POG) 236.10p -5.33%
Premier Farnell (PFL) 225.10p -4.74%
Anite (AIE) 129.70p -3.85%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 336.10p -3.03%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 138.30p -3.02%
William Hill (WMH) 408.60p -2.85%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 204.50p -2.71%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 455.00p -2.61%
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 93.55p -2.55%
Informa (INF) 512.50p -2.47%