The FTSE 100 Index finished the session down 50.1 points at 6,535.68 – a decline of almost 0.8 per cent but nowhere near as dramatic as many had forecast.
Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “The potential right now is that we’re in something of a waiting game as the European Central Bank is yet to decide whether it will extend its emergency liquidity provision. For now there may be an air of calm prevailing, but once there’s a degree of clarity over the next steps, this could well change.”
Among individual stocks, Marks & Spencer topped the blue-chip risers’ board with a gain of 8.5p to 547p ahead of tomorrow’s annual meeting and accompanying trading update, which is expected to show that its long-term recovery is still a work in progress, with clothing sales down again but food takings on the up.
The defensive mood in the City helped others such as Perth-based utility SSE, up 16p at 1,574p, and consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser, 63p higher at 5,589p.
Elsewhere Velocys, which turns natural gas into diesel and jet fuel, saw its shares sink 22.25p, or 19.4 per cent, to 92.75p after suspending chief executive Roy Lipski pending an investigation into allegations of “serious misconduct”, although the firm said the claims “do not involve any element of fraud or financial impropriety”.
Royal Bank of Scotland was also heading south, losing 12.8p or 3.6 per cent to close at 346.5p amid reports the UK government was looking to offload half its stake within a couple of years.
Fellow state-backed lender Lloyds Banking Group dipped 0.99p to 84.15p, while HSBC was 4.8p lower at 568.1p and Barclays down 4.15p to 258.8p.