Financials and insurers pulled the FTSE into negative territory late on Monday after a promising start.
At shortly before 3pm, London's blue-chip index had dipped almost 20 points, or 0.43%, to 4,542. At its highest point today, the FTSE scaled 4,600.
Old Mutual tumbled almost 7% to 56.10, while HBOS, down 6.6% to 67.7, and Lloyds TSB, down 5.15% to 123.30, were both in the doldrums ahead of their merger.
Energy and utilities companies were in the upper echelons of gainers. Coal bed methane developer Great Eastern Energy rose 6% to 220p, power generation firm International Power climbed 6.57% to 263.75, and global technology group Invensys increased 5% to 183.1.
In New York, the Dow Jones dropped below 9,000 as concerns over spiraling corporate profits continue to dominate. JPMorgan Chase, the US's largest bank, has fallen almost 4%, helping the index slide 0.76% to 8,966.IFAonline
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