FRSH worries about Japan’s nuclear crisis and a disappointing start to the US results season triggered losses for global markets today.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell 1.6% after Japan’s nuclear safety agency raised the severity of the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis to the highest level on the scale and the same rating as the Chernobyl incident in 1986.
Confidence was also impacted by results from Alcoa last night as America’s largest aluminium producer missed sales targets for the first quarter. The uncertainty over global economic prospects dragged mining stocks lower and left the FTSE 100 Index down 35.9 points at 6017.8.
Dire monthly sales figures from the British Retail Consortium and a cut to economic growth forecasts by the IMF added to the gloom.
Manoj Ladwa, senior trader at ETX Capital, said: "The markets have been looking for a reason to sell off and seem to have finally found it today."
Outside the top flight, National Express shares were 3% higher after Sky News reported that activist shareholder Elliott Advisers had won the support of the transport company’s second-biggest shareholder for its plans to install three new directors. The move is significant as Elliott is pressing National Express to consider a merger and pursue a more aggressive growth strategy.
Shares were 7.75p higher at 247.05p, while potential merger partner Stagecoach lifted 2.3p to 215.1p.