Stocks fell on Tuesday morning after a three-day weekend as markets attempted to play catch-up following negative sessions in the US and Asia overnight.
Concerns over Syria are likely to weigh on sentiment after US Secretary of State John Kerry said last night that Syria would be held accountable for the "moral obscenity" of the chemical weapons attack that has killed well over a thousand. "By any standard it is inexcusable," he said.
Senior Market Analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets said that the comments "raised concerns that some form of confrontation could be being considered".
Renewed worries about US debt was also hitting stocks after US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the government would reach the debt ceiling by mid-October unless Congress agrees to raise the limit. "Operating the government with no borrowing authority, and with only the cash on hand on a given day, would place the US in an unacceptable position," Lew said.
The German IFO survey will be in focus for European markets this morning. The closely-watched business climate index is expected to edge higher in August, from 106.2 to 107. Both the current assessment and expectations sub-indices are also forecast to show improvement on July.
This afternoon will see the release of a number of economic indicators in the States, including the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, consumer confidence figures and the Richmond Fed regional manufacturing survey.
Antofagasta leads miners lower
Mining and banking stocks were under pressure this morning as risk appetite is scaled back. ENRC, Rio Tinto and Vedanta were being joined lower by RBS and Lloyds. However, previous metals peers Randgold and Fresnillo were bucking the trend, issuing small gains.
Antofagasta was also a heavy faller after reporting that revenues in the first half dropped 12.1% to $2.7bn, reflecting a decline in copper prices and increased costs.
Oilfield services group Petrofac gained after saying it remains on track to deliver growth this year despite both revenues and profits slipping in the first half. The company reiterated that the full year would be significantly weighted to the second half.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch was weighing on the share prices
of retail peers Debenhams and SuperGroup after downgrading both stocks to 'neutral'. The broker however raised its rating for Next to 'buy'.
Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer was given a lift after Citigroup upgraded the stock to 'buy', saying: "The combination of recent, material upgrades to UK economic growth forecasts, and M&S management initiatives have markedly improved the credibility of double-digit FY15 and FY16 M&S EPS growth forecasts".
Security solutions group G4S rose after weekend reports that activist investment fund Cevian Capital - its second-biggest investor - is to double its stake in the firm to 10%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,322.00p +4.51%
Next (NXT) 5,030.00p +2.32%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 482.50p +2.31%
G4S (GFS) 251.20p +2.20%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,249.00p +2.13%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,382.00p +2.07%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,190.00p +1.27%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 1,906.00p +1.01%
Diageo (DGE) 2,021.00p +0.80%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,275.00p +0.79%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 213.50p -4.52%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 880.50p -3.77%
IMI (IMI) 1,468.00p -2.39%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 336.10p -2.38%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,012.00p -1.86%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 310.70p -1.61%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,192.00p -1.57%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,880.00p -1.54%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,190.00p -1.26%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 73.95p -1.12%
FTSE 250 - Risers
UBM (UBM) 733.50p +4.56%
NMC Health (NMC) 343.00p +3.63%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 170.90p +2.70%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 417.60p +2.43%
Ted Baker (TED) 1,981.00p +2.38%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 313.40p +2.05%
Perform Group (PER) 513.50p +1.99%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 318.20p +1.08%
Redrow (RDW) 232.20p +0.96%
Temple Bar Inv Trust (TMPL) 1,209.00p +0.92%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
JPMorgan Indian Inv Trust (JII) 294.00p -4.30%
Bumi (BUMI) 202.30p -4.26%
Polymetal International (POLY) 785.50p -2.96%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 234.10p -2.42%
AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI) (AZEM) 316.40p -2.41%
Afren (AFR) 142.40p -2.20%
John Laing Infrastructure Fund Ltd (JLIF) 118.30p -2.15%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 272.80p -2.08%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,153.00p -2.04%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 303.00p -2.01%