London: 65 Billion Pounds Wiped Off Shares

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BBC

Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 14:21 GMT 65bn wiped off London shares

About 65bn has been wiped off the value of companies listed on London Stock Exchange as the global slide in share prices worsened on Wednesday.

More than 4% was wiped off London's benchmark FTSE 100 index, as banks joined telecoms giants in seeing their market worth slashed.

Traders, who have seen the value of the 100 biggest UK companies fall by 20% in the past 12 months, had hoped for an end to the recent share price slide.

But an early lift in response to a rise in US stock markets on Tuesday failed to be maintained, with losses during the morning setting the City up for one of its worst ever days.

By 1300 GMT the FTSE 100 index - which reflects the combined value of shares in the largest 100 companies on the London Stock Exchange - had lost 221 points.

Techmark's tumble

This left it at 5,499 - its lowest levels since the stock market turmoil of the autumn of 1998.

The Techmark index, reflecting the value of London's largest technology companies had lost 90 points, or more than 4%, to stand at 2,080. It is more than 65% below levels reached a year ago.

Banking and technology companies bore the brunt of the sell-off, with rumours of a profit warning from the world's largest mobile phone maker, Nokia, unsettling dealers.

Nokia is the only handset maker not to cut first quarter profits projections and could come out with a statement ahead of a meeting with key investors on Thursday.

Losers, more losers

Banking group HSBC fell 7% on fears that it is heavily exposed in Japan - but other banks also reported similar falls.

In the telecoms sector it was Cable and Wireless that took another hammering, falling another 11% after yesterday's profit warning which took it down 20%.

Telecoms equipment maker Marconi was down 6.6% and BT lost another 4%.

Vodafone, Telewest Communications and Colt Telecom were also suffering, while among the tech fallers were chip designer Arm, telecom equipment group Energis and computer services group Logica.

Overall, losers outnumbered gainers by four to one. The FTSE 100 index had lost more than 4% this week already.

One of the few that stood against the tide was insurer Prudential which regained 2.2% after Monday's 15% fall as traders came around to its planned purchase of American General for $26.5bn.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), March 14, 2001


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