A rise in Spain’s borrowing costs fuelled fears about the eurozone debt crisis and triggered a sell-off on world markets today.
Spain’s borrowing costs rose close to 6%, reflecting worries the country will struggle to keep up with repayments on its debt mountain and could ultimately need a bailout.
The eurozone fears dragged the FTSE 100 Index down more than 2%, or 128.1 points to 5,595.6.
The flight from risk was most intense among banking stocks after Barclays slipped 6%, or 13p to 206.3p, Royal Bank of Scotland fell 1.1p to 24.7p and Lloyds Banking Group declined 1.6p to 29.8p.
There was also a fall of 10.1p to 189.7p for car and aviation parts supplier GKN amid fears over the strength of demand from the powerhouse US and Asian economies.
Mining stocks struggled but Randgold Resources bucked the trend after it said its operations in Mali had been largely unaffected by the recent military coup there. Fears of disruption had caused a recent slump in its shares, but the stock was up by 5% or 270p to £54.25.
Among the biggest fallers in the FTSE 250 Index was transport operator FirstGroup after broker Citigroup downgraded the stock from buy to neutral amid concerns over margins in its UK bus arm. Shares were 15.4p lower at 198.5p, a fall of 7%.
The biggest Footsie risers included British Sky Broadcasting ahead 18.5p at 654p, Severn Trent up 25p at £15.32 and G4S ahead 3.5p at 273.1p.
Among the biggest Footsie fallers were Vedanta Resources down 80p at £11.55, Kazakhmys down 53.5p at 853p and IMI off 52.5p at 923p.
Barry Shepherd, of investment manager and financial planning specialist Brewin Dolphin in Aberdeen, noted that the day’s fallers included Premier Oil, which shed 3.6% to 382.15p, while BG Group lost 3.6% to 1,369.5p and Wood Group closed 7% lower at 670.75p.
Among the risers was Goals Soccer Centre, which closed 0.4% higher at 128p.