Mounting concerns over plans to taper America’s massive economy-boosting programme sent London’s blue chip share index to a six-week low.
A busy week for US economic updates has frayed the nerves of investors, with markets keenly waiting for key US jobs figures on Friday for a clearer signal on whether the Federal Reserve will start to reduce stimulus on 18 December.
The FTSE 100 Index fell 62.9 points or 1 per cent to 6,532.43, with markets also lower across Europe and the US.
Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, said: “If the FTSE is going to maintain its ten-year record of rising over the month of December, it is going to do it the hard way – the index is down more than 100 points in the first couple of days’ trading.
“The significant economic data due over the next few days has given those with a nervous disposition ample reason to flap, resulting in substantial sell-offs in almost all the major markets worldwide.”
Mining stocks were among those seeing the biggest declines, with Chilean copper miner Antofagasta slumping 26.5p to 754p and Randgold Resources off 140p at 4,017p.
High street chain Next was the biggest riser in the FTSE 100 after the British Retail Consortium reported a pick-up in clothing and footwear sales towards the end of November. Shares were 115p higher at 5,515p, a rise of more than 2 per cent.
Other retail stocks were also on the front foot, with Sports Direct International up 0.5p to 744p and Ted Baker 100p higher at 2,128p in the FTSE 250.
A shortened top flight risers’ board also featured bookmaker William Hill after broker UBS said the pull-back in the company’s shares since last summer looked to be overdone. It added 6.1p to 387.1p.