LONDON -- The FTSE 100 closed 23.2 points lower to 6,100.6, and the Techmark slid 160.6 points, or 4.4%, to 3,474.2 as the cloud over Wall Street cast its gloom over the other side of the Atlantic.

One of Wednesday's biggest losers was the industrial gas group


(BOX) - Get Report

, which rose this morning on a

Wall Street Journal

report that the proposed takeover of the company by

Air Liquide


Air Products

(APD) - Get Report

would be given the green light by the

Federal Trade Commission

after the two put together a package to sell off BOC's U.S. assets. Alas, this turned out not to be the case and BOC's shares ended down 34p, or 3.3%, at 991 ($15.26).

Hilton Group

provided a late feature, losing 44.5p, or 16.3%, to 228 on a volume of 103 million shares. A bulk of this was a sale by fund manager

Henderson Crothswaite

, which is believed to be reducing its holding in the wake of



agreed bid for

Sports Internet

. The word is that the BSkyB acquisition will result in increased competition for Hilton subsidiary

Ladbroke Group

. BSkyB closed 178p lower, or 11.8%, at

13.34, in the wake of third-quarter figures and the Sports Internet bid.



managed a gain of just 3p, or 0.3%, to 904, having been up at 920 at one stage, after releasing strong quarterly results and an e-commerce initiative.


(UL) - Get Report

provided another ray of sunshine with a gain of 20p, or 5.3%, to 404 after encouraging first-quarter results.

Tech stocks are only worth a mention if you're into blood sports.

Baltimore Technogies


dropped 436p, or 6.6%, to

62.00, and

JSB Software

surrendered 237p, or 13.5%, to


Telecom stocks weren't a pretty sight either.

British Telecom


fell 35p, or 3.7%, to 922 and

Colt Telecom


lost 128p, or 4.9%, to

25.12. However,

Vodafone AirTouch

(VOD) - Get Report

managed to turn an early loss into a gain of 3p, or 1.1%, at 255.

Europe's other stock markets also finished in negative territory, with tech shares some of the hardest hit. The

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt closed down 159.68, or 2.2%, at 7120.86 and the

CAC 40

in Paris ended 106.27 lower, or 1.7%, at 6263.34. The

Neuer Markt's Nemax All-Share

index finished down 272.07, or 4.3%, at 6128.55.

German technology stocks got pounded late in the day, causing even



to erase early gains from the news that the semiconductor maker would be added to the blue-chip Dax index. Infineon ended down 5.10 euros, or 6.9%, at 68.90 ($62.51),



fell 7.50 euros, or 4.7%, to 152.50 and software maker


(SAP) - Get Report

tanked 45.50 euros, or 7.2%, to 586.00.

German banks had a mixed day, with

Deutsche Bank


closing up 0.71 euros, or 0.9%, at 77.86, while



fell 1.44 euros lower, or 3.4%, at 40.56 and

Dresdner Bank


closed down 1.01 euros, or 2.3%, at 43.00.

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

erased gains to close down 1.79 euros, or 2.9%, at 60.71.

France Telecom


also tanked late in the session to end down 7.50 euros, or 4.9%, at 144.50 and


(TEF) - Get Report

ended down 1.13 euros, or 4.7%, at 22.85 euros.