The FTSE 100 opened slightly lower on Monday morning as traders continue to speculate about the future of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing programme.
The weak start follows the London benchmark's second weekly decline in a row last week and the worst weekly performance on New York's Dow Jones index so far this year.
With the economic data calendar looking pretty bare today, the focus is likely to remain on the Fed ahead of the minutes of the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting to be released on Wednesday.
"Whether the latest Fed minutes will offer any further clues regarding a September taper is doubtful given recent chatter from various FOMC members about the strength or otherwise of recent data, but it does give the markets something else to obsess about," said Senior Market Analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets.
Kentz rockets; miners provide a drag early on
Engineering solutions group Kentz Corporation saw shares
surge this morning after saying that a 565-580p-a-share proposal from AMEC undervalued the company and was rejected by its board. The approach values Kentz at around £680m, compared with Friday's market cap of £561m (476p a share).
Kentz said: "The company has strong growth prospects given its substantial order backlog, prospective bidding pipeline and robust balance sheet, together with a clear and realisable strategy to create further shareholder value as a standalone entity."
Mining stocks were in the red this morning as risk appetite was scaled back: Fresnillo, Glencore Xstrata, Randgold, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, BHP Billiton and ENRC were all registering losses early on. Vedanta was also down despite announcing over the weekend that it has completed the merger of two of its subsidiaries, Sesa Goa and Sterlite Industries.
Utilities group SSE was trading higher after HSBC upgraded the stock from 'underweight' to 'neutral', saying that the Energy Market Reform offers a "glimmer of hope". The broker said that SSE's "risk profile [is] reduced in line with peers on greater business visibility.
Vodafone was lower after reports said the telecoms giant has paid millions to HMRC to settle a dispute over tax returns of its Irish subsidiary.
Housebuilder Bovis Homes gained after reporting a 19% jump in pre-tax profits in the first half and giving an upbeat outlook for the rest of the year with demand being supported by the government's 'Help to Buy' scheme.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Shire Plc (SHP) 2,439.00p +2.26%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 891.50p +0.96%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,254.00p +0.72%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,128.00p +0.62%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 382.90p +0.60%
BAE Systems (BA.) 440.00p +0.59%
SSE (SSE) 1,555.00p +0.58%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,316.00p +0.46%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,339.00p +0.45%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,663.00p +0.42%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 302.50p -1.90%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,523.50p -1.55%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,155.00p -1.45%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,219.00p -1.30%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,532.00p -1.29%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,065.00p -1.27%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,090.00p -1.17%
Old Mutual (OML) 195.30p -1.11%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 339.50p -1.02%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,967.50p -1.01%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 585.00p +22.93%
Cranswick (CWK) 1,140.00p +2.70%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.9 +2.59%
Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 796.50p +2.31%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 102.00p +2.05%
Henderson Group (HGG) 178.10p +1.95%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 983.00p +1.76%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 250.00p +1.75%
Alent (ALNT) 344.70p +1.65%
Rathbone Brothers (RAT) 1,631.00p +1.62%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Bumi (BUMI) 213.30p -3.05%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 308.40p -2.56%
JPMorgan Indian Inv Trust (JII) 304.00p -2.56%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 184.60p -2.12%
Perform Group (PER) 519.50p -2.07%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 36.70p -2.06%
Investec (INVP) 431.20p -1.91%
Halma (HLMA) 563.50p -1.91%
Evraz (EVR) 120.80p -1.87%
Intu Properties (INTU) 308.40p -1.78%