Election results in Italy prompted in a sell-off across European stock markets on Tuesday morning after the country was thrown into a political deadlock.
The centre-left party led by Pier Luigi Bersani appears to have won the lower house by a narrow margin though the there was an inconclusive vote for the senate. Both Silvio Berslusconi's centre-right party and Beppe Grillo's Five-Star Movement gained a lot of support, with the latter surprising after pulling in a quarter of the vote.
With anti-austerity parties faring so well in the elections, there are fears that the government may struggle to pass through the reforms aimed at tackling its budget. With the country now seen by many as "ungovernable", a second election down the line is now looking likely.
"The resulting situation is extremely complex and it is unlikely to lead to a stable coalition," according to analysts at Unicredit this morning.
"Some sort of bi-partisan agreement to change the electoral law and then new elections seems the most likely outcome. In the meantime, uncertainty will remain high."
FTSE 100: Banks, miners bear the brunt of the sell-off
Cyclical sectors such as banking and mining were firmly out of favour this morning as the political impasse in Italy shook investor confidence.
UK lenders Barclays, RBS and Lloyds were registering steep losses early on, joined by resource peers EVRAZ, Polymetal and Vedanta, as risk appetite waned. Nevertheless, precious metals peers Randgold and Fresnillo managed to push into positive territory as gold prices
Costa coffee and restaurant group Whitbread was also lower despite a fourth-quarter update saying that it is on track to hit full-year forecasts. The company did admit that like-for-like sales growth was "slightly surprised" by the poor weather conditions in January.
CRH, the building materials firm, was also down after announcing that its CEO Myles Lee is to retire at the end of the year after five years running the show. The news came as the company reported lower-than-expected sales for 2012.
Even GKN, which reported record annual profits this morning, saw shares
slip into the red. The engineering giant posted a 19% increase in 2012 profit before tax (PBT) and a better-than-forecast 13% rise in revenue.
Chemicals group Croda was a rare bright spot this morning after saying that it has made an encouraging start to the new year. The company said that PBT rose 6.6% in 2012 on sales which increased 2.3%.
FTSE 250: St Modwen drops on placing proposal
Regeneration specialist St Modwen tanked early on after proposing a placing to help fund its share in the development of the New Covent Garden Market in London. St Modwen intends to raise additional equity capital through a placing of up to 20m new ordinary shares of 10p each, representing around 9.99% of the company's existing issued share capital.
Devro, which manufactures casings products for the food industry, was also lower despite an in-line set of 2012 results, though top-line growth was held back by some cost issues/FX, according to analyst Nicola Mallard from Investec.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Croda International (CRDA) 2,614.00p +2.27%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,520.00p +0.82%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,513.00p +0.67%
Xstrata (XTA) 1,144.50p +0.48%
Glencore International (GLEN) 382.65p +0.18%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Barclays (BARC) 298.35p -4.27%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,476.00p -3.39%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 344.20p -2.99%
Schroders (SDR) 1,985.00p -2.89%
Evraz (EVR) 264.00p -2.83%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 424.30p -2.57%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 53.64p -2.35%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 668.50p -2.27%
Prudential (PRU) 943.00p -2.23%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,192.00p -2.21%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Computacenter (CCC) 488.10p +0.68%
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 1,664.00p +0.67%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 805.00p +0.62%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 124.80p +0.40%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 269.80p +0.30%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 496.70p +0.28%
BlueCrest AllBlue Fund Ltd. GBP
Shares (BABS) 174.00p +0.06%
BH Macro Ltd. GBP Shares (BHMG) 1,985.00p 0.00%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 920.00p 0.00%
John Laing Infrastructure Fund Ltd (JLIF) 111.00p 0.00%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Sports Direct International (SPD) 397.80p -7.60%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 257.90p -7.16%
Bumi (BUMI) 332.20p -5.33%
Savills (SVS) 490.50p -4.20%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 741.00p -3.52%
Devro (DVO) 342.60p -3.49%
Supergroup (SGP) 644.00p -3.30%
Cranswick (CWK) 978.50p -3.21%
Man Group (EMG) 103.10p -3.19%
Synthomer (SYNT) 207.20p -3.04%