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FTSE sell-off gathers strength on North Korea fears

FTSE sell-off gathers strength on North Korea fears

Update: The FTSE 100 has slumped further into the red amid persisting fears over North Korea tensions, with the sell-off accelerated by a slump in US markets.

The UK blue-chip index closed 113 points, or 1.5%, lower at 7,385, steadily losing ground as the trading session wore on.

Tensions with North Korea appear to have finally shaken the confidence of US investors, after the S&P 500 opened 0.8% lower, threatening to end its 15-day streak of closing moves below 0.3%, a 90-year record.

The stock market jitters came as North Korea outlined plans to launch missiles aimed at the waters off the coast of the US Pacific territory of Guam.

A statement attributed to North Korea's head of strategic forces, General Kim Rak Gyom, said the plan for the strike would be ready by the middle of the month and would await orders from leader Kim Jong-un.

Efforts by the US to dial down rhetoric have failed to shift the bearish mood among investors. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson said yesterday North Korea posed no 'immediate threat' and that 'Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days'.

Tillerson's tone was in sharp contrast to that of US president Donald Trump, who warned on Tuesday any North Korean threat to the US would be met with 'fire and fury'.

'Stock markets in Europe are still under pressure because of the heightened tensions surrounding North Korea,' said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

'Traders are on red alert as the mention of war has sent them running for cover. In a tense situation like this, equity markets can move lower exceptionally fast, and investors don't want to be caught on the wrong side of the markets, so they are getting out now.'

On the FTSE 100, miners were among the biggest fallers. Anglo American (AAL) dropped 2.6% to £12.72 while Rio Tinto (RIO) fell 3.6% to £34.70 and Glencore (GLEN) traded 2.7% lower at 330.5p.

Downbeat housing data meanwhile weighed on builders, with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reporting house prices grew at their slowest rate in four years in July.

Persimmon (PSN) fell 3% to £24.59, Taylor Wimpey (TW) dropped 3% to 189.1p and Barratt Developments (BDEV) was down 3% at 589p.

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