London close: FTSE 100 drops 1.7 per cent as sell-off continues



LONDON (ShareCast) - - BG Group (LSE: BG.L - news) plummets on gloomy guidance
- AT&T (NYSE: T - news) rules out Vodafone bid
- RBS (LSE: RBS.L - news) reveals more provisions for new claims
- FTSE 100 at lowest since mid-December

techMARK 2,761.91 -1.00%
FTSE 100 6,550.66 -1.70%
FTSE 250 15,528.21 -1.12%

UK markets dropped to their lowest levels in nearly six weeks on Monday as heavy falls from several blue chips and ongoing market volatility prompted investors to shy away from risk.

There were a number of notable movers on the top-tier index today including BG Group, which dropped to an eight-month low after revising its production guidance for this year. Hargreaves Lansdown (LSE: HL.L - news) fell on rising concerns over competition, while Vodafone sank after AT&T ruled out a takeover bid for the company.

Meanwhile, a surprise trading update from RBS late this afternoon caught investors off guard as the bank said that it has put more cash aside to deal with new claims.

The FTSE 100 fell by 1.7%, or 113.08 points, to 6,550.66 by the end of trade; it has not closed below this level since December 18th.

London's benchmark index has now fallen by over 4% during the past three sessions alone as ongoing turmoil in emerging-market currencies, concerns about economic growth in China and nervousness ahead of this week's Federal Reserve policy meeting caused investors to scale back risk appetite significantly.

However, while these concerns have added to the downside pressure on stocks, Senior Market Strategist Brenda Kelly from IG (LSE: IGG.L - news) said that the "main contributing factor is that equities have risen too much too quickly".

"A correction to the downside was inevitable and is, in many respects, healthy," she said.

BG Group, Hargreaves Lansdown, Vodafone and RBS fall

Oil and gas producer BG Group has warned that production this year will be lower than analysts' estimates due to "short-term issues" in Egypt and the US. The stock was down 14% by the close after Chief Executive Chris Finlayson labelled the group's guidance as "very disappointing".

Hargreaves Lansdown dropped sharply today after Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) Stockbrokers became the latest platform to undercut the financial services group's fees.

US telecoms giant AT&T has quashed talk about a takeover of Vodafone by ruling out a bid for the British mobile phone company, sending shares in the latter firmly into negative territory.

RBS sank sharply before the close after saying it has decided to provide £2.9bn to cover various claims and conduct-related matters affecting the group.

ARM Holdings (LSE: ARM.L - news) was in the red after saying that it has appointed Stuart Chambers as Chairman to replace John Buchanan, who is stepping down due to a medical condition.

Citigroup (NYSE: C - news) pressured terrestrial broadcaster ITV (LSE: ITV.L - news) lower after cutting its rating from 'neutral' to 'sell', naming it as one of its least preferred stocks in the European media sector.

RSA Insurance Group dropped after The Sunday Times reported it is considering scrapping its final dividend to raise £500 to fill a balance-sheet loss.

On a positive note, shares in F&C Asset Management (Other OTC: FCAFF - news) leapt this afternoon after the group confirmed reports it had received an indicative offer from Canadian bank BMO Financial Group of 120p a share in cash, compared with Friday's closing price of 93.5p.

Defensive stocks, often seen as relatively stable investments in times of market volatility, were benefitting today from a reduction in risk appetite. Utility firms Severn Trent (Other OTC: STRNY - news) and United Utilities (LSE: UU.L - news) were among the best performers on the back of rumours of a possible private equity bid out of Canada.

FTSE 100 - Risers
United Utilities Group (UU.) 713.50p +1.86%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,700.00p +1.31%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,184.00p +1.02%
Weir Group (Frankfurt: 42W.F - news) (WEIR) 2,107.00p +0.81%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 858.00p +0.70%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 1,821.00p +0.55%
BAE Systems (LSE: BA.L - news) (BA.) 432.30p +0.53%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 1,055.00p +0.48%
Shire Plc (LSE: SHP.L - news) (SHP) 2,946.00p +0.41%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 245.70p +0.24%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
BG Group (BG.) 1,082.00p -13.78%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,429.00p -5.30%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 223.55p -3.87%
Pearson (Dusseldorf: PES.DU - news) (PSON) 1,126.00p -3.84%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 1,972.00p -2.67%
Burberry Group (LSE: BRBY.L - news) (BRBY) 1,439.00p -2.57%
Aviva (Berlin: GU8.BE - news) (AV.) 445.00p -2.54%
Smiths Group (Other OTC: SMGKF - news) (SMIN) 1,433.00p -2.52%
Mondi (Frankfurt: KYC.F - news) (MNDI) 913.00p -2.46%
Old Mutual (Other OTC: ODMTY - news) (OML) 179.00p -2.40%

FTSE 250 - Risers
F&C Asset Management (FCAM) 116.40p +24.49%
NMC Health (LSE: NMC.L - news) (NMC) 474.00p +3.27%
Homeserve (HSV) 292.20p +2.35%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 384.00p +1.91%
Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT) 1,072.00p +1.52%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 614.00p +1.49%
Oxford Instruments (LSE: OXIG.L - news) (OXIG) 1,692.00p +1.44%
Dignity (DTY) 1,479.00p +1.44%
Elementis (ELM) 254.10p +1.36%
Ashmore Group (Other OTC: AJMPF - news) (ASHM) 330.00p +1.29%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Essar Energy (LSE: ESSR.L - news) (ESSR) 57.25p -10.05%
Alent (LSE: ALNT.L - news) (ALNT) 300.00p -5.87%
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 98.50p -4.74%
Supergroup (Frankfurt: 49S.F - news) (SGP) 1,455.00p -4.59%
Close Brothers Group (CBG (Shenzhen: 000009.SZ - news) ) 1,249.00p -4.44%
Ocado Group (Other OTC: OCDGF - news) (OCDO) 481.70p -4.42%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 315.40p -4.28%
Cairn Energy (LSE: CNE.L - news) (CNE) 237.10p -4.20%
CSR (Frankfurt: GQY.F - news) (CSR (LSE: CSR.L - news) ) 658.50p -4.15%
African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG.L - news) (ABG) 212.20p -3.94%