FTSE down almost 30 points
on 20/08/2012 18:36:03
The FTSE 100 Index had been near a four-month high but it slipped 28.1 points to 5824.4 amid disappointment that the European Central Bank has played down speculation over the shape of any future bond buying programme.
And heavily weighted miners suffered a poor session as investors feared that China will not be drawn into measures to stimulate its economy.
Much of the focus was on Greece though, with Antonis Samaras poised to visit Germany and France this week in a bid to gain an extension on Greece's deadline to meet fiscal targets as it carries out painful reforms.
Greek officials were also looking to finalise €11.5bn in spending cuts necessary for it to continue receiving the international funding that is protecting it from bankruptcy.
The nervousness ahead of the negotiations saw Germany's Dax and France's Cac-40 suffer small losses, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the US was 0.2% lower as the London market closed.
The pound was slightly down against the euro at 1.27 as the single currency was boosted by a fall in Spain's bond yields despite the ECB scotching speculation about its imminent intervention in bond markets. But sterling was marginally up against the dollar at 1.57.
Back in London, miner Evraz was the biggest top flight faller, off 4% or 11.3p at 259.2p, while Xstrata declined 31.8p to 907.5p, on the eve of results from merger partner Glencore.
It has also been affected by the crisis at platinum miner Lonmin as Xstrata has a 25% stake in the FTSE 250 Index company.
Lonmin declined 5% - off 29.5p to 610p - as fears grew over the financial impact of strikes at its flagship operations in South Africa. It was reported over the weekend that Lonmin is considering a £640 million rights issue.
However, there was some respite for the company today after it was able to resume some production at the mine due to the return to work of nearly a third of staff.
Meanwhile, Bovis Homes lost hold of a 2% rise seen after it doubled its half-year dividend to 3p and forecast further strong growth in the wake of a 100% rise in interim profits to £16.2m (€20.6m).
Shares were later 1.4p lower at 491.6p, even though Numis Securities increased its full-year profits forecast from £46.6m (€59.3m) to £50m (€63.6m).
Elsewhere in the second tier, Argos owner Home Retail Group rallied 4% - up 3.3p to 96.3p - after Deutsche Bank removed its sell rating on the stock.
The broker was encouraged by the company's most recent trading update and said a strategic review later this year could offer some support to the shares.
The biggest Footsie risers were British Land up 3.5p at 543.5p, Compass ahead 4.5p at 719.5p, Lloyds up 0.2p at 34.4p, and SSE ahead 7p at 1342p.
The biggest Footsie fallers were Evraz down 11.3p at 259.2p, Eurasian Natural Resources off 12.7p at 357p, Xstrata down 31.8p at 907.5p, and Kazakhmys off 23.5p at 716.5p.