China worries keep FTSE in the red

Renewed fears over Ukraine and a slowing Chinese economy sent the FTSE 100 Index to a one-month low today as it suffered its fourth straight session in the red.

The FTSE 100 Index has fallen for four sessions in a row amid concerns over China's economy and Ukraine tensions.
The FTSE 100 Index has fallen for four sessions in a row amid concerns over China's economy and Ukraine tensions.

Falls in Chinese copper and iron ore prices have impacted on mining stocks in recent days as demand fears grow on the back of recently-published weak export figures and in the wake of China's first corporate bond default.

While some miners staged a bounce back, it was not enough to offset general investors concerns, with Sunday's referendum on the future of Crimea also drawing closer - leaving the FTSE 100 Index 64.6 points lower at 6620.9.

America's Dow Jones Industrial Average followed the lead of European markets, falling more than 30 points in early session trading.

There was little movement for the pound in a quiet day for economic news, with sterling remaining at 1.66 US dollars and 1.19 euros.

Security giant G4S led declines in the top tier - slumping 5% or 12.9p to 232.5p - after it reported a £170 million full-year loss in the wake of a major hit from the cost of settling a scandal in which it overcharged taxpayers for the electronic tagging of offenders.

The company took £386 million of one-off costs in the year, including in relation to the repayment of £108.9 million to reimburse the Government on the tagging contract .

Chief executive Ashley Almanza said it had been an extremely challenging year, but that the company had taken action to address long-standing issues.

Insurer Prudential topped the risers board after operating profits rose 17% to £2.95 billion and it announced a new 15-year deal with Standard Chartered to extend the pair's life assurance partnership.

The improvement in earnings was better than expected and with the Pru also upbeat about prospects this year, shares rallied 3% or 37 p to 1398p.

In contrast, Standard Chartered dropped 46p to 1203p, a fall of 4%, after its shares went ex-dividend - meaning new shareholders are no longer entitled to the latest pay-out.

The same factor meant fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown fell 46p to 1339p and banking giant HSBC dropped 17.4p to 599.2p.

The City also welcomed two new stocks to the market, with the start of conditional dealings in Pets at Home and Poundland.

Discount retailer Poundland made strong progress after its shares rose 23% to 370p, giving it a market value of more than £920 million.

However Pets at Home endured a mixed start after being valued at £1.2 billion with a starting price of 245p a share. The stock slipped as low as 225p before clawing back some losses to stand 3% lower at 238p.

The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Prudential up 37p at 1398p, Fresnillo ahead 18p at 900p, Antofagasta 13.5p higher at 853.5p and Vodafone 3.3p stronger at 229.6p.

The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were G4S down 12.9p to 232.5p, Hammerson off 22.5p to 549.5p, Standard Chartered 46p lower at 1203p and Meggitt 16.6p weaker at 449.5p.