FTSE on the slide

Falls among banks offset more strong advances in the insurance sector today as HSBC plunged lower in the wake of its £12.5bn (€13.3bn) rights issue approval.

Falls among banks offset more strong advances in the insurance sector today as HSBC plunged lower in the wake of its £12.5bn (€13.3bn) rights issue approval.

Other banking stocks also gave back impressive gains seen in yesterday’s rally, with Barclays off 5%, or 5.9p to 106.6p.

The wider FTSE 100 Index eased 21.4 points to 3749.5 in mid-morning trading, despite the extended bounce bank from insurers in the wake of well-received results from Prudential.

The Pru was up 6% or 18p to 303.5p, while Legal & General jumped 9% – 3.6p to 41.2p – ahead of its own full-year results presentation next week.

Among other stocks in the sector, Standard Life cheered 6.5p to 171.6p and Aviva rose 6.25p to 225p.

Lloyds Banking Group was the only blue-chip bank in the black, improving 1.5p to 55.9p.

Royal Bank of Scotland dropped 0.5p to 23.7p, with Asian-facing Standard Chartered down by 34.5p to 875.5p.

HSBC, which is in the process of completing a record £12.5bn (€13.3bn) fundraising, suffered more volatility as shares dropped 87.75p to 363.5p – a 19% decline.

Shareholders gave the rights issue the go-ahead yesterday, which is set to see new shares start trading on April 8.

Property group British Land was also in the red, by 13.25p to 382.75p, after a downgrade from broker Collins Stewart.

On a quiet day for corporate news, collectibles firm Stanley Gibbons rose half a penny to 89.5p after it said recent trading had been strong because of the impact of low savings rates.

Elsewhere, the UK’s largest pawnbroker H&T Group rose 2%, or 3.5p to 191p, after it reported a 36.5% rise in pre-tax profits.

It said results had been boosted by its expansion programme, new customers amid the credit crunch and the rising price of gold.

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