The London market slumped into the red today weighed down by fears of an economic slowdown across the Atlantic.
With mining stocks on the slide and a number of stocks trading without the right to the latest dividend payment, the FTSE 100 Index closed 42.6 points down at 5860.
Paul Webb, trader at CMC Markets, said: “Looking back at the whole London session, it has been choppy once again with little additional data around for traders to chew on.”
He pointed to data showing US existing home sales at a two year low as contributing to the downslide.
On a positive note shares in Brambles – the world’s biggest pallet supplier - jumped 5% after the firm delivered a 29% rise in full-year profits.
The improvement from Brambles – up 20.25p to 447.25p – came after a strong outlook statement from the Anglo-Australian company.
Another company from down under moved in the opposite direction, despite posting the country’s best ever profits figure.
Miner BHP Billiton was dragged lower by disappointment at the level of a proposed share buy-back scheme, while there was general concern that buoyant trading conditions of the last year may start to cool.
Shares in the world’s biggest mining company, which is listed in London and Australia, were 42p lower at 1014p. Other stocks in the sector were under pressure with Anglo American off 90p at 2380p and Vedanta down 8p to 1362p.
Stocks going ex-dividend also had an effect on the Footsie.
Dixons owner DSG International was among those affected, down 6p at 195.25p, while Scottish & Southern Energy fell 29p at 1185p.
But software firm Sage gained 4.25p to 233.5p after its US peer Intuit reported positive full-year results ahead of expectations.
Outside the top flight, retailer Matalan lifted 3% or 4.75p to 177p following yesterday’s news that founder John Hargreaves has secured more time for a potential £820 million deal to take the clothing chain back into his ownership.
Bill payment firm PayPoint added 60p to 560p – a gain of 12% to take it to the top of the second tier risers – after UBS upgraded it to buy from neutral due to its recent share price weakness and said it was a high-quality stock.
Media agency Taylor Nelson Sofres gained 10p to 190p after Investec said its valuation was too low and said results due September 4 should provide valuable feedback on progress in addressing its custom research business in the US.
But shares in Blacks Leisure dived 18% after it warned that poor camping sales had impacted on its Millets business. With the retailer only expected to break-even at the half-year, shares fell 79.5p to 372.5p.
The day’s biggest blue chip risers were Brambles up 20.25p to 447.25p, Sage up 4.25p to 233.5p, Tate & Lyle up 7p to 711p and Drax up 8p to 910p.
The day’s biggest blue chip fallers were BHP Billiton off 42p to 1014p, Slough Estates down 24.5p to 636p, Anglo American off 90p to 2380p and Pearson down 23p to 737.5p.