The London market steadied today after the sell-off seen in the previous session on doubts over the strength of a global economic recovery.
But sentiment remained cautious, holding back progress on the FTSE 100 Index, which closed down four points at 4230.
US investors were also nervous ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates tomorrow and its economic assessment.
Even news that sales of existing homes rose last month by 2.4% failed to provide direction, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average edging down 0.2% in early trade.
However, the performance marked an improvement on yesterday’s heavy falls, which left the Footsie 2.6% lower and the Dow deep in the red.
A bearish mood gripped markets after a welter of gloomy predictions from the World Bank and others led to fears that the recent recovery in equities since the lows of mid-March has been overdone.
Many firms that have benefited from the recent rebound – financial and commodity stocks – have fallen back.
Today’s leading top-flight faller was Legal & General, down 4.77p to 55.83p after it was cut to sell by analysts at Societe Generale.
Lloyds Banking Group was the worst off among banks, down 2.85p to 65p.
It was closely followed by International Power, which fell 5.5p to 229.75p despite JP Morgan taking a more positive stance on European utilities.
Anglo American was on the back foot after the miner’s board abruptly rejected a merger approach from rival Xstrata last night.
It fell 46p to 1652p in spite of speculation that Chinalco could be mulling its own bid for the group.
Elsewhere in a mixed session for the sector Antofagasta rose 21.5p to 576.5p and Eurasian Natural Resources rose 22p to 620p, although Lonmin shed 14p to 1134p.
Thomson Reuters was one of the leading risers, up 4% or 59p to 1690p, after it announced plans to ditch its London listing in favour of the Toronto and New York exchanges, where its shares have been trading at a higher price.
Distribution and outsourcing group Bunzl was up 2%, or 9.5p to 495p, after it said the pound’s weakness helped boost first half revenues by 17%.