Panicky moves among emerging economies aimed at shoring up their currencies weighed on investors’ minds before all eyes turned to the US, where outgoing Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke prepared to wrap up his last policy meeting.
The FTSE 100 Index opened higher before turning negative on the prospect of monetary tightening by the Fed, and ended the session down 28.05 points at 6,544.28 after South Africa’s central bank hiked its interest rates, following similar moves from India and Turkey. The broader FTSE 250 lost 27.52 to end the day at 15,688.31.
Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, said: “Emerging markets and their increasingly unsuccessful attempts to prop up their currencies spread mayhem to the major markets ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee tapering decision. As well placed as the US might be to handle these changes to the current stimulus, it is becoming apparent that all too many other countries are not yet ready to be weaned from the teat.”
Mining stocks provided some of the strongest highlights for the London market after production updates from two of the sector’s leading players.
Antofagasta jumped 50p, or 6.1 per cent, to 872.5p as it reported a record year of copper production in 2013, driven by a strong final quarter.
It was a similar story at Anglo American, which gained 77p, or 5.7 per cent, to 1,420.5p following higher output of iron ore, copper and diamonds.
Carphone Warehouse set the pace in the FTSE 250 after revealing it will open 60 standalone Samsung stores across the UK and Europe to showcase the technology giant’s mobiles, tablet computers and laptops. Shares jumped 6.7 per cent, or 18p, to 287.2p on the tie-up.