FTSE 100 slides as bank shares lose ground

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Banking shares dragged the London market lower after healthy results from US banks including JP Morgan and Citigroup failed to boost confidence.

The FTSE 100 ended 21.4 points, or 0.3%, lower at 7,327.5 points, amid light trading volumes ahead of the Easter break.

Within the UK banking sector, HSBC fell 1.7%, while RBS shed 1.3%.

Royal Mail rose 1.2% after the company said it was closing its defined benefit pension scheme.

The company said there was "no affordable solution" to retaining the scheme, as it would have to more than double its contributions to the scheme to £1bn a year by 2018 to keep it open.

Shares in Associated British Foods rose 3.6% after analysts at Jefferies raised their rating on the Primark owner to "buy" from "hold".

Miners of precious metals also did well after gold hit a five-month high, with shares in both Fresnillo and Randgold Resources up 1.5%.

Energy stocks dragged as the oil price edged lower, taking about 10 points off the FTSE. Royal Dutch Shell fell 1.15% and BP was down 0.3%.

On the currency markets, the pound slipped 0.15% against the dollar to $1.25220, but rose 0.2% against the euro to 1.17790 euros.