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Sovereign debt and banking fears fuel FTSE drop

Sovereign debt and banking fears fuel FTSE drop
A cocktail of sovereign debt and banking fears in Europe ensured another session of losses on the London market yesterday.

A cocktail of sovereign debt and banking fears in Europe ensured another session of losses on the London market yesterday.

The FTSE 100 Index closed 44.2 points lower at 5,624.3 as financial shares fell out of favour after Italian bank Unicredit, facing losses on government bonds, discounted stock in order to raise some money.

Elsewhere, France saw its long-term borrowing costs edge up at a closely-watched bond auction – raising fears the second largest euro economy could lose its AAA credit rating – and a report suggested Spanish banks would have to raise billions of euros in additional capital to survive.

Among the banks hit in London, Lloyds Banking Group fell 0.2p to 26.4p, Royal Bank of Scotland was off 0.5p at 20.3p, Barclays slid 4.7p to 183.6p and HSBC shed 2.4p to 497.6p.

Insurers featured prominently on the fallers board, with Aviva off 5.5p to 303.5p and Standard Life 2.9p lower at 201.9p.

Struggling retailers JJB Sports and Clinton Cards enjoyed some welcome relief after better-than-expected Christmas trading updates.

JJB surged 38%, or 2.1p to 7.7p and Clinton rose 5%, or 0.5p to 11.5p, while fellow retailer Sports Direct added 4.9p to £2.25.

But JD Sports Fashion was 15.5p lower at 592.5p and Next, which on Wednesday posted a disappointing festive update, fell 42p to £26.14.

High street giant Marks and Spencer, which updates on its seasonal performance next week, fell 2.6p to 306.2p.

Elsewhere, cinema operator Cineworld fell 5p to £2.03 despite a robust trading update.

The biggest FTSE 100 fallers included Vedanta Resources down 54.5p at 985.5p, Icap off 15.8p at 329.1p, CRH down 43p at £12.42 and Man Group off 4.1p at £1.23.

Among the risers were Eurasian Natural Resources up 30.5p at £6.95, Fresnillo ahead 51p at £16.20, ARM Holdings up 15.5p at £6.10 and Petrofac gaining 28p to £14.93.

Barry Shepherd, of investment manager and financial planning specialist Brewin Dolphin in Aberdeen, noted SSE losing 1.5% to £12.91 and FirstGroup shedding 2% to 334.5pRisers included Wood Group which added 1.7% to 666p and Petrofac gained 1.9% at 1493p.

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