FTSE slides for third day in a row

Financial stocks led the FTSE 100 Index into the red today as the London market slid to its third successive losing session.

A mix of adverse broker comment and poor news – including a potential 9,000 jobs to go at Royal Bank of Scotland – saw a banking trio of RBS, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group at the top of the fallers board.

This saw the FTSE reverse a positive opening for the top flight to fall further below the 4,000 mark, closing 63 points lower at 3930.5, or 1.6%.

Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average was also 2% lower in early trading as investors took their money off the table after a strong recent run, and analysts warned that US banking losses could even exceed Depression-era levels.

In London, RBS was the leading FTSE faller after announcing the drastic cuts, of which around 4,500 are likely to fall in the UK. Shares fell 3.1% to 26.7p on the day that the Government’s 70% share in the bank was confirmed.

Lloyds was also sent 6.8p lower to 72.9p after Credit Suisse lowered it to underperform, while Asian facing Standard Chartered was down more than 6% – or 60p – to 900p after UBS brokers said the stock was “ahead of itself”.

Among the top-flight’s other banking stocks, Barclays declined 14.9p to 157.7p, and HSBC was 8.75p lower at 442p.

Insurer Legal & General was another big faller in the financial sector, down 3.5p to 47.5p, while Old Mutual slid 3.9p to 54.1p

The leading riser was BAE Systems after analysts said US defence secretary Robert Gates’ spending programme looked favourable for the company.

In particular the F-35 joint strike fighter programme, in which BAE has a key role, is in line for increased spending. BAE shares were more than 5% higher, up 19p at 347.5p, while defence and aerospace supplier Cobham rose 3.9p to 180.4p.

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