FTSE claws back some of morning loss

British investors were in the grips of another difficult session today after seeing the FTSE 100 Index slip below 6,000.

British investors were in the grips of another difficult session today after seeing the FTSE 100 Index slip below 6,000.

The latest slump followed a 3% fall for the Nikkei in Tokyo, adding to the problems of last week when the Footsie lost more than 300 points.

The top flight fell as low as 5989.6 after a drop of 126.6 points, but later recovered to stand 98.2 points lower at 6018 - a drop of 1.6%.

Falling copper prices meant miners were among the casualties, with Kazakhmys down 5%, or 49p at 1037p, and Xstrata off 97p at 2266p.

British Airways was the biggest faller, off 8%, after Friday's draft open skies agreement between the European Union and the United States.

That could raise the prospect of increased competition on BA's prized transatlantic routes out of Heathrow.

It also emerged that BA completed the sale of its Connect business with an additional charge of £20m (€29.3m), following losses incurred by the business to the end of February. Shares were down 39.75p at 491.75p.

HSBC was one of just three stocks in positive territory, up 2.5p at 888.5p after annual profits rose 5% to £11.48bn (€16.82bn) and it spared investors further nasty surprises relating to bad debt levels in the United States.

Royal & Sun Alliance was the other riser after it completed the disposal of its US operation to Arrowpoint Capital. The disposal, which tackles a major area of risk for the insurance group, caused shares to jump 3% for a while but later settled 1% higher, up 1.25p at 149.5p.

Scottish & Southern Energy also held firm after revealing plans to pay a higher dividend. With customer numbers up to 7.7 million, shares were near to their opening mark - down a penny at 1464p.

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