Market close: Greek default fears haunt markets

The London Stock Exchange building. Picture: Getty
The London Stock Exchange building. Picture: Getty
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GLOBAL markets fell sharply as fears of a Greek default punctured optimism at the end of a record-breaking week for the FTSE 100 Index.

Greece’s officials were due to meet creditors tomorrow to thrash out a deal, but many commentators believe Athens will struggle to make a payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) due next month.

The uncertainty caused the top-flight FTSE 100 to fall away from a record intra-day high set in the previous trading session, with the index down by 65.82 points at 6,994.63.

David Madden, market analyst at IG said traders had been “running for the hills”.

He added: “Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is playing a dangerous game of chicken with the IMF, and the high-stakes game has flushed out many of the players in the stock markets. Political mind games aside, dealers are taking their money off the table and the hatches are being battened down ahead of the weekend.”

The sell-off came despite hopes that China will announce more stimulus measures after figures this week showed that the world’s second-largest economy grew at the slowest pace since 2009 in the first quarter.

Lacklustre trading in London saw shares in Rolls-Royce dip 1.5p to 978.5p despite it announcing an order worth £6.1 billion to provide Trent engines to Dubai-based airline Emirates.

Tesco shares were also lower, down 4.35p or 1.8 per cent at 236.7p, as investors geared up for a sharp fall in annual profits when the supermarket giant presents results on Wednesday. Underlying profits are likely to be down 65 per cent to £1.07bn after a series of profit warnings, an accounting scandal and the loss of sales and market share to rivals such as Aldi and Lidl.

The biggest blue-chip risers were oil major BP, up 5.9p at 479.4p, and water utility Severn Trent, which gained 13p to end the day at 2,134p.

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