FTSE edges down as IMF scandal cast shadow over markets

The FTSE 100 fell in early trading as the arrest of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn threatened to derail crisis talks on eurozone debt.

Strauss-Kahn, who denies a sexual assault charge in the US, was a pivotal player in tackling the eurozone debt mountain.

A bailout package for Portugal is set to be given the green light today as the bloc struggles to put its house in order, but the arrest has heaped even more pressure on already delicate negotiations.

Energy firms fell on London's blue chip index as crude retreated by around one per cent and JP Morgan advised investors to steer clear of the sector.

"We advise against chasing telecoms, utilities and pharmaceuticals on a 6-12 month horizon," it said in an equity strategy note.

Stocks on the FTSE 100 which were dented in early trading included temporary power supplier Aggreko, which was down 1.6 per cent.

Centrica lost 1.6 per cent after issuing a statement saying it had acquired PH Jones Group, a provider of central heating services to the social housing market, for £30m in cash.

Oil-and-gas company John Wood Group dropped 0.9 per cent after announcing the details of a plan to return £1.05bn to shareholders.

Chip maker Arm Holdings was down by a similar level with BT Group down 1.2 per cent.

Meanwhile RBS was the biggest loser among financial stocks, down two per cent as the eurozone debt crisis weakened confidence. Lloyds was down 1.1 per cent with HSBC dipping 0.18 per cent.

The top five risers on the FTSE 100 were all miners who gained after analysts advised investors to take advantage of the recent sell-off in the sector.

Rio Tinto led the table after a one per cent lift with Fresnillo, Kazakhmys, Antofagasta and Anglo American close behind.

Antofagasta gained 0.4 per cent as Citigroup upgraded the stock to "neutral" from "sell".

Software groups Autonomy and Sage also saw a lift.

In corporate news Alliance Boots saw profit rise 14.2 per cent thanks to its international performance.