THE LEADING share index extended its losses for the fifth straight day this morning, as worries over Cyprus continued to dent confidence.
"The ongoing turmoil in Cyprus saw equity traders offer stocks lower in early trade as risk appetite was tempered by an uncertain Eurozone backdrop," said Matt Basi, head of UK sales at CMC Markets.
"The rumour mill continues to churn out speculation surrounding Russian intervention, but with no concrete offer on the table and plan A firmly rejected by the Cypriot parliament, fears of a disorderly exit continue to weigh on investor sentiment."
In early trading the FTSE 100 was down almost 0.8 per cent, weighed on by building materials group CRH and InterContinental Hotels Group, down 2.4 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively.
Miner Eurasian Natural Resources – which yesterday revealed a full-year loss on the back of a $1.5bn write down – sank two per cent. Russian steelmaker Evraz was also down two per cent.
Elsewhere, chipmaker ARM Holdings – which earlier this week announced that its chief executive Warren East was to step down – fell 1.9 per cent.
Notable blue chip risers this morning included insurer Resolution and United Utilities, which rose 1.7 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively. This morning the utility firm said in a trading statement that annual underlying operating profit is expected to be slighter higher than last year.
UK banking shares were a mixed bag this morning. HSBC fell 0.55 per cent, RBS was up 0.4 per cent, Barclays rose 0.3 per cent and Lloyds Banking Group fell 0.1 per cent.
In Asia, the Nikkei closed up 1.34 per cent and in the US the Dow Jones closed up 0.39 per cent.