Markets are expected to open firmly lower this morning as fears about an impending military invention in Syria continue to dampen sentiment and reduce risk appetite.
"Global equity markets are expected to record significant losses again on Wednesday, as investors pile their cash into safe haven assets on fears that the West will respond to the Syrian governments use of chemical weapons," said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.
"Things have escalated quickly over the last couple of days, with numerous officials from the US, UK and France, in particular, condemning the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons and calling for action to be taken. This has prompted a knee-jerk reaction in the markets on expectations that this action will come in the form of a military strikes against the Syrian government."
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open down 26 points from yesterday's close of 6,440.97.
UN weapons inspectors are expected to return to a site in Damascus near where a suspected attack happened last week. US Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday there is "no doubt" that the Syrian government used chemical weapons and it must be held accountable.
Syria's government has denied the use of chemical weapons and said the US military will fail if it launches an attack against the country.
"There must be a response," said White House spokesman Jay Carney. "What form that response will take is what the President is assessing now."
As well, investors in the UK will scrutinise Governor Mark Carney's speech to be delivered this afternoon, at 13:45.
Stocks to watch
Chemring, the manufacturing company serving the defence markets, saw a sharp year-on-year decline in revenue in the third quarter as it continues to feel the effects of automatic spending cuts in the States. Revenue totalled £142.8m in the three months to July 31st, down 13.5% from the £165.1m reported for the same quarter of 2012. The company said this decline was as expected and full-year targets still remain in line with market forecasts.
Meggitt, the FTSE 100 aerospace, defence and energy group, has unveiled plans to acquire Piezotech, a US ceramic devices producer. The $41.2m purchase is being made to strengthen Meggitt's sensing systems business, and once completed Piezo was to be maintained as a standalone operation.
Online gaming company 888 Holdings achieved record revenue in the first half, driven by the strong performance of casino and poker products. Total revenue rose by 7% to $200.1m as casino and poker revenues both increased by 13% to $94.1m and $46.9m respectively.
A number of FTSE 350 stocks will go ex-dividend today, meaning that new investors won't have access to the companies' latest payouts. These firms include: African Barrick Gold, AZ Electronic Materials, CRH, Glencore Xstrata, Henderson Group, Legal & General, Stagecoach, St James's Place, Tullow Oil, Ultra Electronics, Vesuvius, Wood Group.