London's FTSE Closes Below 6000greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Tuesday, 20 February, 2001, 17:14 GMT London's FTSE closes below 6,000
The UK's main stock index has closed at its lowest level for 16 months, as US shares failed to provide the lift investors had hoped for.
The FTSE 100 index, which measures the share price among the UK's top listed firms, ended Tuesday down 113.9 points at 5,980.1.
The index has not closed below the key 6,000 level since April.
Traders blamed the slide on a weak opening by US stocks, which provide the lead for investors worldwide.
While the FTSE had opened steadily, another torrid day for banking stocks, compounded by a lack of direction in the main US indices, the Dow Jones and Nasdaq, saw UK shares slump sharply in late afternoon trade.
"There is still this general malaise coming out of the US," said Deutsche Bank economist Bob Semple.
The Nasdaq, which declined 5% on Friday, had lost a further 2.3% by 1700GMT on Tuesday. The market was closed on Monday for a US holiday.
"Nasdaq was expected to open up and it opened down," said Alex Stewart of Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. "The FTSE just plummeted through resistance levels."
Japanese shares, meanwhile, are hovering near their lowest level for 28 months.
UK bank stocks weakened on Tuesday as the Halifax announced a low cost mortgage, stoking the war in the sector which broke out on Monday when Nationwide announced it would drop its rates.
Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland fell 4.2% on Tuesday, with Alliance & Leicester stock shedding 3.67%, and Halifax closing 3.46% lower.
Analysts also noted the weakness in shares in mobile phone giant Vodafone which was overtaken on Monday by BP Amoco as the UK's most valuable company.
Despite an early rise, the mood changed later with its shares closing 8p lower at 190p.
"Vodafone has not produced the bounce that some people were expecting, and is still below 200p, which is a little worrying," said Tony Jackson, strategist at ING Barings Charterhouse Securities.
Vodafone's decline pulled down other telecoms firms with it, including British Telecom which ended 3.9% lower at 586p.
Outlook for UK shares
The loser board was headed by pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline, which fell 5.3%, more than wiping out 2.2% rise in the firm's stock on Monday.
Traders blamed profit-taking for the decline ahead of the firm's results statement, due out on Wednesday.
The outlook for UK shares when markets reopen on Wednesday depends largely on the performance of US stocks, Dresdner's Alex Stewart said.
"We have to wait for the close of the Nasdaq," he said.
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The Markets: 23:54 UK FTSE 100 5980.1 -113.9 Dow Jones 10730.88 -68.9 Nasdaq 2318.35 -107.0 FTSE delayed by 15 mins, Dow and Nasdaq by 20 mins
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