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.
Two global vehicles
'Further plug advice gap'
Must appoint separate CEOs and boards
Advisers do come out well
Will report to Mark Till