LONDON -- Caught in the unforgiving crossfire of rising oil prices and a weakening Wall Street, Europe's markets were sold off heavily in the afternoon.
In London, the
ended down 124 points, or 1.9%, at 6,280 as first the 6,400-point support level went, swiftly followed by the 6300 level. Technical analyst Ricardo Ronco at
Banca Nazionale Dell Agricoltura
is now very bearish about the market.
"I am really scared because the FTSE has been in a wide trading range of 6,000-6,800 from October 1999 following the Dow and the European markets," he said. "Now maybe something is happening."
It was a dramatic change from earlier in the day when conflicting undercurrents fought for dominance with the FTSE 100 spending a fair bit of the time bouncing uncertainly around 20-30 points or so in the red.
performance illustrated well the market as a whole. BT bobbed up and down like a cork, before slumping 19p, or 2.4%, at 791p ($11.15).
stood on the sidelines for much of the day and then headed south. An announcement that it's to acquire a further 8.5% stake in Spain's
was ignored and the shares closed down 15.75p, or 6.0%, at 247p.
Other telecoms had a shaky session.
Cable & Wireless
fell 46p, or 4.4%, to 994. Speculation continues that it has sold part of its 20% stake in
Pacific Century Cyberworks
, the Internet group that bought C&W's Hong Kong subsidiary.
The biggest loser of the day was easily
, which plunged 67p, or 11.3%, to 525p following news it plans to raise
400 million through a lightning fast issue of ordinary new shares to be placed at a discount of up to 5% to the share price.
Europe's other major stock markets also finished lower. The
in Paris closed down 85 points, or 1.3%, at 6,445 and late in the German session the
in Frankfurt was down 65 points, or 0.9%, at 6,873.
As in London, the falls were broad based. In the banks,
fell 3.00 euros, or 3.0%, at 98.50 ($83.73) and
was down 1.10 euros, or 1.1%, at 95.35, while in tech and telecoms
collapsed 1.76 euros, or 4.2%, to 40.40,
fell 0.70 euro, or 1.4%, to 50.40 and
was down 2.97 euros, or 1.7%, to 168.84.