A rally for European shares and the euro proved short-lived following fresh uncertainty over Ireland’s planned rescue package.
The FTSE 100 Index opened more than 30 points higher in the wake of news on Sunday that Ireland will accept an EU bailout, but stocks soon slipped – down 52 points at 5680.8 – as attention began to focus on details of the rescue.
There was a similar decline on the Cac 40 in France, as well as early session losses on Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Worries over Ireland continued as few specific details of the bail out emerged and as the Irish government was thrown into disarray after the Greens – a junior partner in the ruling coalition – called for a general election.
There was also anxiety that the debt troubles would soon erupt in other embattled eurozone countries, such as Portugal and Spain.
The euro surrendered a positive start and slid back below the 1.37 barrier against the dollar while the single currency was also lower against the pound.
Blue-chip banks quickly lost early session gains as investors returned to concerns about their exposure to Ireland.
Part-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland, which is seen as being the most vulnerable in terms of Irish lending through its Ulster Bank subsidiary, fell nearly 5%, down 1.9p to 39.8p.
The biggest FTSE 100 risers were TUI Travel up 7.2p at 208p, Compass ahead 10p at 539p, Kingfisher up 4.5p at 249.2p and Severn Trent ahead 20p at 1459p.
The biggest fallers were Royal Bank of Scotland down 1.9p at 39.8p, Lloyds Banking Group off 2.8p at 63.9p, Standard Life down 6.9p at 216p and Legal & General off 2.75p at 94.8p.