Stocks opened lower in London this morning and the FTSE 100 index is down 28.4 points to 5,313.8, as mining stocks dropped on concern the copper price run might be slowing.
Recent bouts of profit-taking and fears of fund liquidation have stood in the way of a widely-expected break above $4,000 per tonne for the metal.
BHP Billiton has come under added pressure after saying its net 2006 oil and gas production could be as much as 8% below previous guidance. Its shares are down 26p or 3.09% to 816.5p, followed by falls of 55p or 2.43% to £22.13 for Rio Tinto, while Antofagasta has dropped 39p or 2.54% to £14.98 and Anglo American has also slipped 39p or 2.35% to £16.19p.
WH Smith has bucked the trend, however, and has so far seen a gain of 21p or 6% to 362.25p so far this morning, after the bookseller reported higher profits despite a drop in sales.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index fell 14.5 points, or 0.1% to 13,449.24 at its close a short time ago, paced by Tokyo Electron and Kyocera, after a slump in US computer-related shares increased concern price declines will cut industry profits.
Tokyo Electron, the world's second-largest maker of chip-production equipment, fell 80 yen or 1.3%, to Yen 5,880 while Kyocera, the world's biggest maker of ceramic packaging for chips, also dropped 160 yen or 1.8% to Yen 7,452.
Among other semiconductor-related shares, Nikon, the world's second-largest maker of machines which etch circuitry onto silicon wafers, lost Yen 27 or 1.8% to Yen 1,452 and NEC Electronics, the world's largest maker of semiconductors for mobile phone displays, slid yen 130 or 3.4% to yen 3,730.
Elsewhere, Tokyo Broadcasting, Japan's third-biggest broadcaster, jumped 500 yen, or 15%, to 3,730, after reports of a proposed management buy-out.
And in the US yesterday, troubles in the technology sector pushed Wall Street's major indices to their lowest levels since mid-May, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average index fell 36.26 points to 10,216.91, with Apple Computer and a downgrade of Intel leading the market fall.
Apple lost $2.34 to $49.25, as its revenue came in below forecasts and iPod sales missed expectations.
Intel also fell $0.18 to $23.24 after analysts at Prudential downgraded the chip maker's stock to "underweight" from "neutral weight", citing potential weakness in revenues and profit margins. Microsoft, also slipped $0.11 to close at $24.30 a share.
Climbing oil prices also exacerbated worries about energy costs as a barrel of light crude climbed $0.59 to settle at $64.12.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Nyree Stewart on 020 7484 9558 or email [email protected].IFAonline
'Fewer than 1% of firms PROD-compliant' - Rory Percival
'Left holding the can'
'VCTs and EIS compared' panel
Letter to Women and Equalities Committee
Decumulation panel debate