Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Footsie Slides Back to 2007 Starting Point; MARKET ROUND-UP

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Footsie Slides Back to 2007 Starting Point; MARKET ROUND-UP

Article excerpt

Byline: MICKEY CLARK

LONDON share prices today slumped to their lowest since the start of the year amid investors' growing concern about the US economy.

The FTSE 100 index was down 118 points at one stage, before reducing the deficit to 95.7 points at 6065.5, stretching its two-day loss to 167.8 points, or almost 3%. That means all this year's gains by blue-chips have been wiped out, the Footsie 100 having now fallen below the 6220.8 at which it ended 2006.

Wall Street was struggling to hold above the waterline in another nervous trading session this afternoon, rallying just 6.10 to 12,082.10. Dealers say further losses would undermine confidence around the globe and could lead to another sell-off. The Dow slumped almost 243 points overnight, and that was matched this morning by 3% falls in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

The cracks began appearing in the US economy last week as the level of defaults among lenders who are highrisk, or subprime as the Americans term it, began to soar. The situation reached crisis point this week as shares of New Century Financial were suspended amid talk it may go to the wall.

A sharp drop in retail sales, reported on Friday, indicates that American consumers have begun reining in their spending as mounting debts and a slowdown in the housing market take their toll. Dealers fear this could lead to a further slowdown in the US economy or, worse still, recession. Such a scenario would be bound to have a knock-on effect on other world economies.

Many City investors chose to take the easy way out today, and headed for the second day of the Cheltenham Festival. Betting on the horses can be a lot easier than investing in shares.

A dozen blue-chips managed to post gains, and the overwhelming number of these were retailers. Takeover target J Sainsbury advanced by 91/2p to 5301/2p despite a denial from CVC Capital Partners that the consortium it was leading had made an indicative offer of 550p a share, or more. …

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