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FTSE falters as another earthquake shakes Japan
The FTSE 100 retreated from a seven-week high after another big earthquake struck off the coast of northeast Japan. Car parts maker GKN (GKN.L) fell but banks (RBS.L, STAN.L) and power supplies company Aggreko (AGGK.L) were among the risers.
Britain’s FTSE 100 stock index pulled back from a seven-week high after an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 struck off the coast of northeast Japan – an area ravaged by last month’s quake and tsunami.
No damage from the quake was detected at a stricken nuclear power plant, Japanese TV reported, and workers were been evacuated without reports of injuries.
The benchmark index of blue-chip shares dropped 0.56%, or 34 points, to 6,007 and the Mid-250 index fell 1%, or 122 points, to 11,659.
‘Markets had remained quiet and flat throughout the afternoon until just after 15:30, when word was received of a 7.4 magnitude quake off the NE coast of Japan,’ said Will Hedden at IG Index. ‘A tsunami warning has been issued and we are waiting for news of what impact this has had on the Fukushima nuclear reactors.’
He added: ‘Back in Europe and the “big news” felt like “no news” as the market has continued to show no reaction to both the Portuguese bailout and the interest rate decisions.’
Hedden was referring to the European Central Bank’s decision earlier in the day to raise interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis in 2008. By contrast, earlier the Bank of England announced it had decided to hold interest rates at their historic low of 0.5%.
US stock markets also fell in response to the earthquake. The Dow Jones industrial average shed 0.78% to 12,330; the Standard & Poor's 500 index was 0.58% lower at 1,328; and the Nasdaq Composite index dropped 0.52% to 2,785.
The losses also came amid a standoff between Democrats and Republicans over the federal budget, as a US government shutdown loomed. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the top Democrat in the Senate, was reported as saying, ‘it looks like it’s headed in that direction.’
Meanwhile, crude oil prices hit fresh 30-month highs after troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were said to have attacked several oilfields in rebel-controlled eastern Libya.
West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery gained 0.18% to $109.03 – after touching $109.27, its highest since September 2008 – while Brent crude for delivery in May softened 0.2% to $122.04 per barrel.
Sterling eased 0.2% against the dollar to $1.63 but weakened 0.25% versus the euro to €1.142. Gold prices inched up 0.1% to $1,458 an ounce after hitting a new record peak of $1,465.
Banks were among the biggest gainers on the FTSE 100, after Portugal asked for an international bailout that analysts say could reach €80 billion (£70 billion). HSBC improved 7p to £6.70, Royal Bank of Scotland edged up 0.14p to 43.2p and Standard Chartered gained 4p to £16.94.
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Look up the shares
- Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS.L)
- Standard Chartered PLC (STAN.L)
- Aggreko PLC (AGGK.L)
- Gkn PLC (GKN.L)
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