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FTSE sell off as investors rush to take profits
by Gavin Lumsden on Feb 04, 2013 at 16:10
(Update) Stock markets have pulled back, with the FTSE 100 dropping 100 points or 1.6% to 6,245, as investors on both sides of the Atlantic take profits after the surge in equities to a five-year high.
On Wall Street the Dow Jones industrial average sank 109 points to 13,900 as investors followed European markets south.
A combination of a poor eurozone consumer confidence survey, electoral uncertainty in Italy and the corruption scandal engulfing Spain's prime minister Mariano Rajoy conspired to push the FTSE Eurofirst 100 index down 1.35% or 10 points to 1,151.
Italy's FTSE MIB index plunged 520 points or 3.6% to 16,700 as investors rushed to cash in on the New Year rally, prompted by polls showing a revival in the ratings of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Meanwhile, Spain's Ibex 35 fell 247 points, or 3%, to 7,981; the Germany Dax slid 132 points, or 1.7%, to 7,700 and France's Cac 40 sank 96 points or 2.6% to 3,677.
The euro tumbled 0.7% against the dollar to $1.3549 although traders expect it to bounce back as the European Central Bank's monetary policy is tighter than the ultra-loose stance of the US Federal Reserve.
Bank shares tumbled in the market slide and after chancellor George Osborne launched the Banking Reform Bill, which will ring fence banks' high street operations and increase depositor protection. RBS (RBS.L), which reportedly faces a £500 million fine this week for Libor rate fixing, slid 3% or 10.4p to 330p.
Barclays (BARC.L) dropped 7.6p or 2.5% to 292p ff at 299.5p. Earlier the bank announced the departure of finance director Chris Lucas and general counsel Mark Harding.
But it was Aviva (AV.L), the high yielding insurer, that led the market lower, down 4.5% or 16p to 351.7p.
Randgold Resources (RRS.L) was the biggest of only five FTSE 100 risers approaching close. The index's only pure gold stock jumped 3.3% or 205p to £62.90 after its flagship mine in Mali, where French forces are helping the government fight an Islamic insurgency, broke production targets last year.
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