Thursday 11 February 2016 5:00 pm

FTSE 100 index closes lower as banks including HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Barclays fall and miners' woes continue

The FTSE 100 index closed sharply lower on Thursday as the selloff in banking and mining shares continued.

The UK's blue-chip index fell 2.39 per cent to 5,536 points, led lower by the financial sector with both banks and insurers set to struggle with low interest rates.

"Banks have been hit hard and further steep weakness can not be ruled out in the near-term. Margin pressure is becoming a big concern for the sector," said Jawaid Afsar, senior trader at Securequity. "Earnings results from some big banks have done little to revive investors' confidence."

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Banks were back under pressure after having rebounded slightly yesterday. Barclays dropped 7.01 per cent to 147.85p per share.

Lloyds bank was trading 4.11 per cent lower to 56p per share, and Royal Bank of Scotland was 4.08 per cent lower at 223.5p per share.

HSBC fell 4.81 per cent to 420.15p per share, while Standard Chartered dropped 5.09 per cent to 386.65p per share. Both banks have large operations in Hong Kong and suffered as the Hong Kong market fell due to ongoing concerns over the state of the Chinese economy. 

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And miners were falling (again). Anglo American was 3.38 per cent down at 315.95p per share, while BHP Billiton dropped 3.01 per cent to 634.1p per share.

Rio Tinto, which today scrapped its dividend policy, fell 3.4 per cent to 1,705p per share and Glencore fell 6.22 per cent to 87.68p per share.

Better news was found at Randgold Resources as the price of gold shot higher. Its share price rose 7.54 per cent to 6,130p.

"Markets are hanging over the cliff-edge. There has been a widespread flight to safe-havens across asset classes with gold, the Japanese yen and government bonds all heavily in demand. The assets most exposed to slowing global growth and negative interest rates are being dumped with bank shares and oil taking the brunt of it," said Jasper Lawler, markets analyst at CMC Markets.

Across the Atlantic US markets plummeted on Thursday morning as investors were spooked by the health of the global economy.