LONDON -- The real story on Thursday was not the weight of selling in the U.K., but what can only be described as a buyers' strike. The FTSE 100 was down 180 points at one stage, but came back to finish 153.6 points, or 2.3% lower, at 6,445.2. The mini-recovery came after the Dow Jones Industrial Average refused to be intimidated by the tech meltdown. Alas, the Techmark index of leading tech stocks remained deeply depressed, losing 310.7 points, or 6.6%, to close at 4,401.7.

The tech-stock fire sale was led by

Baltimore Technologies


, down 1,070p, or 11.2%, at 85.27 pounds ($136.43),


, 731p, or 15.9%, lower at 38.69 pounds, and

BATM Advanced Communications

, down 505p, or 7.8%, at 59.82 pounds.

ARM Holdings


failed to benefit from news of a strategic alliance with

GEO Interactive Media

and fell 383p, or 9.2%, to 37.69 pounds, but GEO rose 82p, or 5.1%, to 17.10 pounds.

Oil stocks bucked the dull trend after the OPEC production agreement. Supported by U.S. buying, the two U.K. oil majors made rapid progress from the outset and closed on a very firm note.

BP Amoco


rose 19.5p, or 3.7%, to 542, and


was up 11p, or 2.2%, at 496.5.

The banking sector attracted selective support.

Royal Bank of Scotland

rose 28p, or 3.3%, to 880 on the sale of Gartmore Investment Management to

Nationwide Mutual Insurance

for 1.03 billion pounds.


(BCS) - Get Report

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was in demand, and rose 21p, or 1.3%, to 16.93 pounds, and


gained 14p, or 2.2%, to 686. Recent takeover favorite

Abbey National

encountered profit taking and eased 42p, or 4.8%, to 827.

European markets were also lower, dragged down by telcos and Internet service providers such as Spain's

Terra Networks

. The

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt closed down 187, or 2.4%, at 7678, and the

CAC 40

in Paris was down 192, or 3.0%, at 6314.

Europe's ISPs have faced a torrid time over the past few weeks as investors have wised up to the fact that the expected growth of many does not match up to valuations. After the relative poor performance of

World Online


Lycos Europe

, both of which are trading below their recent IPO prices, there are worries over the success of the April 17 debut of Deutsche Telekom's



Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

closed down 6.20 euros, or 6.9%, at 83.30 ($80.80),

France Telecom


was down 15.50 euros, or 7.8%, at 184.00, and


(TEF) - Get Report

, which owns 80 percent of Terra, fell 1.0 euro, or 3.5%, to 26.10.