Bank jitters weigh on FTSE 100


The FTSE 100 Index stood 12 points lower at 5869 by mid-session

Banking stocks pulled the London market lower as investors were again spooked by deepening European debt woes.

Ireland’s credit rating was slashed from Aa2 to Baa1 by key agency Moody’s, while Greece had its already low rating placed on review for a further downgrade.

The FTSE 100 Index was down 12 points at 5869 following Moody’s report, which comes after a similar move earlier this week to place Spain’s debt on review.

Fears over eurozone contagion were amplified by a report from the Bank of England, which warned Britain’s banks were not entirely safe from the continental debt crisis.

EU leaders meeting at a summit in Brussels revised the Lisbon treaty in a move to calm financial markets and restore the credibility of the euro. But this was not enough to calm traders, who pulled out of the Footsie’s banks.

Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, both closely tied to Ireland, were down 1.4p at 67.7p and 1p at 39.1p respectively, while Barclays, which is highly exposed to Spain’s economy, dropped 3.7p to 259.9p.

Elsewhere, AstraZeneca slumped to the bottom of the FTSE 100 after US regulators dealt a blow to its hopes of approval for heart drug Brilinta.

The stock slumped more than 5% or 166.5p to 2986.5p as the US Food and Drug Administration said it wanted more information about a key study into the drug.

Other fallers included BP, which dropped 5.2p to 464.8p, as investors spent a second session worrying about the impact US legal action over the Gulf of Mexico disaster will have on the company’s planned resumption of dividend payments.

Temporary power supplier Aggreko saw shares slip 1% after the company warned strong revenues in 2010 – led by major events such as the World Cup – would not recur next year. Shares were down 17p at 1490p. Outside the top flight, shares in National Express and Punch Taverns made progress after trading updates from the pair impressed analysts.

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