Financials rose this morning, but could not prevent the FTSE falling 0.2%, or 8.8 points to 5475.28.
Four companies that went ex-dividend were among the steepest fallers. RSA Insurance Group, yielding 10.6%, fell 4.3% to 124.6p while Hammerson, yielding 3.9%, dropped 1.3% to 397p.
Diageo, whose shares yield 4.7% but also went ex-dividend, dropped by 1.6% to £10.80, while BHP Billiton fell 1.4% to £20.87.
Financials, however, defied the broader market's fall. Reports Prudential hedged out the currency risk of its pending purchase of AIG's Asian operations sent its shares up 1.5% to 494.8p, although they had dropped 20% since the deal was announced earlier this week.
Lloyds Banking Group rose 1.4% to 52.12p and Barclays was up 1.1% to 325.4p.
ITV, which this morning announced a net profit of £91m in 2009 compared to a £2.6bn loss in 2008, rose by 3.3% to 56.9p.
Computer chip manufacturer ARM Holdings rose 1.7% to 221.6p on news global semiconductor sales rose 0.3% in January.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.3%, or 31.3 points, to 10,253, on hopes €4.8bn of austerity cuts expected to be announced by Greece today will nurse it back to financial health.
Asian miners in particular were buoyed by hopes for a global recovery. Australian iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto both rose, as did Japan's Mitsubishi Corp, which earns a large portion of its revenue from selling commodities.
In the US, the Dow Jones closed flat overnight at 10,405.98 points. All eyes in America will be on the ISM non-manufacturing index numbers out today with 51 the median forecast.
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Reporting to Steve Hill
Appointed on 19 September
Plans to double size in five years
Unnamed company valuation reduced