Although US indices were up by the close yesterday, news out earlier this morning confirming the presence of a nerve poison in the US Senate has helped send the FTSE 100 index down about 16 points to 4,365 as currency traders have sent the dollar tumbling.
The FTSE is heading south for the fourth day in a row, and is now more than 150 points below its January high of 4,518, according to Bloomberg figures.
About three-quarters of all stocks in the index have dropped so far today.
Royal & Sun Alliance is down 2.25p to 95p, while Aviva is close behind with a 10.25p drop to 508.5p. Analysts at Merrill Lynch have cut their recommendation on some insurance stocks.
BAE Systems is down 3p to 162.75p after Boeing yesterday said it was not interested in acquiring the UK firm.
MmO2 is down 1.5p to 83p ahead of results due out tomorrow. The stock made gains yesterday, but a poll of telecoms analysts today suggests the firm will still report numbers putting it fourth in the rank of licenced network operators.
BOC is down 11p to 883, despite reporting a 25% increase in quarterly profit as the market for chip making-related equipment grew strongly last year. However, it also reports that it faces more than 8,000 lawsuits in the US related to sales of welding equipment through a company it no longer owns.
British Gas Group is down 2.75p to 276.5p, even after analysts at JPMorgan raised their recommendation on the stock to ‘overweight’.
Investors have gone heavily defensive today.
Allied Domecq is the top performer, rising 5.5p to 436.5p.
Imps is up 12p to 1,117p after releasing a trading statement indicating full-year results will be in line with expectations.
Xstrata is up 7p to 665.5p after Morgan Stanley upgraded its view of the mining sector.
Intercontinental has recovered from yesterday’s drubbing, adding 4.5p to 531p after technical analysis indicated a ‘buy’ signal.
The mid-caps FTSE 250 index is up about 1 point to 6,058.
Invensys is up 1.25p to 26.75p as leaked plans for a rights issue continue to attract support.
EasyJet is up 5p to 325p as competitor Ryanair prepares to be hit with a massive fine for subsidies ruled illegal by the EU.
PHS is down 3.5p to 92p after analysts at UBS market the provider of sanitary services down to ‘neutral’.
Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 11.11 points to 10,499.18.
The S&P 500 index climbed 4.13 points to 1,135.26, while the technology laden Nasdaq Composite dropped 3 points to 2,063.15.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 slipped another 134.81 points to 10,641.92. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index managed to reverse recent losses caused by panic over bird flu, adding 90.02 points to 13,090.01.IFAonline
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Square Mile’s series of informal interviews
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