A volatile London market swung between positive and negative territories today as investors sought direction in the trading turmoil.
The FTSE 100 Index, which saw 4% of its value wiped away yesterday, was 35 points lower in early trading before swinging as much as 86 ahead later in the session.
But these gains proved short-lived as the benchmark index slipped back 27.2 points into the red at 5831.7 by mid-morning.
Traders are expecting Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average to open lower again today although the US index staged a late rally last night as investors emerged to hunt down some cheap looking stocks.
Some of the casualties from Thursday featured on the Footsie risers board, which was led by insurer Standard Life. The company advanced more than 3%, or 9.75p, to 295.25p.
Mortgage lender Northern Rock was an early beneficiary of the brief Footsie revival as the banking stock has been battered by funding concerns. It gave back most of its earlier gains to stand 8.5p ahead at 667.5p as the wider market fell.
Elsewhere in the financial sector, 3i Group put back 14.5p to 994p, Icap gained 10.75p to 465.75p and Man Group cheered 3.25p to 450p.
But the market retreat undermined advertising and marketing group WPP which failed to cling on to a strong start after revealing a 7% rise in half-year profits. Despite the firm reporting bright prospects for 2008, shares were 6.5p lower at 674p.
Miners were also hit following falling copper prices yesterday, with Vedanta Resources the leading Footsie faller off more than 4%, or 64p, at 1434p. Rio Tinto was off 70p at 2859p and Anglo American down 56p at 2414p.
Outside the top flight, air conditioning firm Worthington Nicholls dived 63%, or 32p to 18.5p, after it said turnover and profits were set to be materially below market expectations.