Heavy falls in the mining sector ensured that the resource-heavy FTSE 100 index was trading firmly in the red on Tuesday morning with sentiment still fragile in the aftermath of the bailout deal for Cyprus and the controversial idea to tax customer accounts.
Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari said that traders were remaining "risk averse" ahead of the vote on the proposed levy later this evening in Cypriot parliament as part of the €10bn aid package.
"Cypriot government officials are expected to vote against a levy on bank deposits, later on today, in a move that will create some unease in the markets, while piling the pressure back on the Troika to come to an agreement that suits all parties.
"The simple fact of the matter is, the EC, IMF and ECB don't want Cyprus to default on its debt any more than its government does. A default would be a nightmare for the Eurozone and the negative contagion that could follow would be a disaster."
Current Cypriot plan won't achieve target
A draft proposal on the one-off deposit tax would fail to meet the €5.75bn target agreed with international lenders, according to Cypriot central bank governor Panicos Demetriades. With leaders desperately scrambling to come up with plan to ease the impact of a potential levy on low-income families, Demetriades has warned that the shortfall in revenues from the smaller savings would not be covered by the taxes on larger deposits.
While Demetriades told the Cypriot Parliament's finance committee that the current bill wouldn't achieve the above-mentioned target, he also warned that "if the draft bill passes, we would see deposit outflows of 10%, or maybe more, in the first few days".
Nevertheless, the central bank chief also said he was in favour of cancelling the levy for all guaranteed deposits below €100,000 as has been suggested by several international authorities, including the Eurogroup. This implies that higher levies would need to be placed on larger deposits in order to maintain the €5.75bn target.
FTSE 100: Miners tank; Sainsbury gains after update
Mining stocks were dominating the fallers list on the FTSE 100 this morning as risk appetite waned, with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton both hit by a downgrade by Goldman. Citi was also pressuring stocks lower after cutting its estimates for iron ore prices on concerns of over-supply.
Precious metals group Fresnillo dropped after Deutsche Bank cut its rating from 'hold' to 'sell', saying that the current share price is pricing in a near-perfect delivery of their medium-term growth prospects and a recovery in metals prices.
Meanwhile, Kazakhmys was hit after Canaccord Genuity slashed its target price for the copper stock by 30% after increasing its cost forecasts and cutting estimates of by-product output rates.
Supermarket giant Sainsbury was edging higher after beating forecasts with its fourth-quarter sales as the firm saw customer transactions grow to a record 22.9m per week.
Chip designer ARM Holdings was in the red after its CEO Warren East called it quits after nearly 12 years as frontman. He will be replaced by ARM's current President Simon Segars.
Lloyds was lower on reports that it is considering the sale of Irish real estate loans in an effort to pull itself out of Europe's property slump. Sector peer RBS was also down despite Investec upgrading the stock from 'sell' to 'hold'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Vodafone Group (VOD) 188.00p +1.65%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,672.00p +1.64%
BAE Systems (BA.) 389.90p +1.56%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 694.00p +1.46%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 901.50p +1.18%
National Grid (NG.) 743.00p +1.09%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 368.70p +0.96%
Shire Plc (SHP) 2,034.00p +0.94%
SSE (SSE) 1,472.00p +0.89%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,503.00p +0.80%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Evraz (EVR) 233.20p -4.62%
Polymetal International (POLY) 840.50p -4.54%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,340.00p -3.74%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,156.50p -3.68%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,409.00p -3.23%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 893.00p -2.99%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,995.00p -2.87%
Standard Life (SL.) 370.30p -2.55%
G4S (GFS) 290.70p -2.52%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,831.00p -2.27%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Inmarsat (ISAT) 705.50p +2.62%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 2,077.00p +2.01%
Computacenter (CCC) 538.00p +1.89%
Cobham (COB) 244.80p +1.87%
Stagecoach Group (SGC) 314.80p +1.81%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 532.50p +1.72%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 266.20p +1.53%
SIG (SHI) 155.30p +1.44%
Perform Group (PER) 503.50p +1.41%
William Hill (WMH) 383.20p +1.41%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 147.20p -9.69%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 181.10p -8.40%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 143.30p -6.52%
Bumi (BUMI) 315.80p -5.31%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 478.70p -5.30%
Domino Printing Sciences (DNO) 675.50p -3.50%
BlackRock World Mining Trust (BRWM) 542.00p -2.78%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 264.00p -2.76%
Grainger (GRI) 134.40p -2.54%
Henderson Group (HGG) 163.80p -2.50%