FTSE tumbles as jitters take hold

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(Close): It was another turbulent day for London's main market, with the FTSE 100 initially sliding sharply before recovering much of its lost ground

The index had shed nearly 140 points, adding to Wednesday's 181 point slide, but ended just 15.7 lower at 6195.9.

Investor jitters were again caused by a mixture of poor economic and corporate news, and worries about the lasting impact of the Ebola virus.

Drugs firm Shire was again the biggest faller in the top flight, down 7%.

The company's shares had already lost 22% on Wednesday after US firm AbbVie announced it was pulling out of a takeover deal.

Banks were also big losers, led by Barclays, down 2%. Tesco was also down 2% after it emerged that billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway firm had reduced its stake in the troubled retailer to under 3%.

The FTSE 100's biggest riser was IAG, which owns British Airways. The shares finished 4.5% higher on suggestions that the impact of Ebola on the travel industry may be overdone, and also that the falling oil price will cut the airline's fuel bill.

Laith Khalaf, from the stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown, said the turbulence was likely to continue. "Markets are in fretful mode, heightened by the spectres of 2008 and 2011, which still haunt investors," he said.