Worries over global growth and Japan’s continuing nuclear crisis have combined to cause an almost 100-point plunge on the FTSE today.
The FTSE 100 lost 89 points in the day’s trading to close 1.5 per cent down at 5,964.47 after the International Monetary Fund downgraded the US’ growth forecast to 2.8 per cent and the UK’s growth to 1.7 per cent.
The additional news that Japan’s authorities had upgraded the seriousness of the nuclear threat to its stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor to severity level seven, equivalent to Chernobyl, added to market fears.
“Directional information has been relatively thin on the ground but the economic and corporate news we have seen released has been universally downbeat,” said IG Index sales trader Will Hedden.
Miners dominated the fallers, led by Fresnillo, which closed down 5.1 per cent at 1,576p. Antofagasta, Kazakhmys, Anglo American and ENRC all lost more than four per cent alongside it.
Traders said company news had added to the decline – such as BP’s $16bn share swap deal with Rosneft, which looks rocky after the Russian oil giant’s chairman Igor Sechin stepped down.
BP closed down 2.8 per cent on the news.
Lloyds Banking Group lost 3.3 per cent to finish at 60.32p the day after the Independent Commission on Banking report indicated it should sell more assets to avoid a competition probe.
But energy firm BG Group closed down 3.7 per cent at 1,488p despite reporting positive news from tests on its Guara Norte well offshore Brazil.
Traders blamed the fall on research from Goldman Sachs advising profit-taking on commodities, which pushed oil prices down.
This caused other companies to hit the top of the risers board, however.
“Softer oil prices have boosted British Airways owner International Airlines and cruise ship operator Carnival as they lead the FTSE risers,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.
Otherwise, defensive stocks rose as investors reacted to the negative outlook.
Imperial Tobacco Group closed one per cent higher at 1,978p while drugmakers AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline finished 0.5 and 0.7 per cent higher respectively.
In the US, mixed revenues at aluminium producer Alcoa added to the market’s concerns and pushed the major indices into the red.
The fall in oil prices also hit the market, with energy stocks leading the S&P 500's losses.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 106.41 points, or 0.86 per cent, at 12,274.70; the Standard & Poor's 500 finished down 9.66 points, or 0.73 per cent, at 1,314.80.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 26.82 points, or 0.97 per cent, at 2,744.69.