LONDON -- The Nasdaq took a big hit last night, inevitably putting pressure on European markets Tuesday morning.

In London, the technology and biotechnology stocks were on the back foot, while Old Economy stocks were easier in very thin trading before the budget speech from Chancellor of the Exchequer

Gordon Brown

.

The

FTSE 100

was down 32 points in early trading, drifted further and was 55.2 points lower to 6569.3 by midday.

In techs,

Baltimore Technologies

fell 976p to 93.75 pounds (US$147.19), while

Infobank International

was down 200p to 25.62 pounds.

Geo Interactive Media

slid 150p to 19.87 pounds and

Arm Holdings

(ARMHY)

was down 169p to 40.53 pounds. The

Techmark

index of leading tech stocks was down 138.9 points, or 2.8%, to 4736.9.

Last week's newcomer

lastminute.com

(LMIN)

fell 20p to 362.5, bringing it below its IPO price of 380p and last week's high of 562.5p. Bookseller

WH Smith

gained 11p to 349p on news that it will link its Internet business with that of media concern

Carlton Communications

(CCTVY)

, which was a couple of pence dearer at 792.5.

Among the biotechs,

Cambridge Antibody

fell 350p to 26.75 pounds and

Oxford Glycoscience

dipped 190p to 20.17 pounds.

Powderject

, however, rose 17p to 695 on news that

Glaxo Wellcome

(GLX)

will buy a further DNA vaccine license from the company for $1.75 million.

Elsewhere,

British Telecom

(BTY)

TheStreet Recommends

attracted support and rose 25p to 12.46 pounds, but

Vodafone AirTouch

(VOD) - Get Report

fell 7p to 373.5.

Oils encountered a bit of selling pressure, although brent crude is steady at US$25.60.

BP Amoco

(BPA)

was 3p cheaper to 540 and

Shell

(SC) - Get Report

lost 10p to 489.5.

The rest of Europe's stock markets were also lower, as investors became cautious ahead of the U.S.

Federal Reserve's

decision on interest rates. The

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt was down 116.80 to 7755.58 and the

CAC 40

in Paris was off 55.2 to 6569.3.

German technology stocks came under pressure in the wake of the Nasdaq's heavy slide Monday.

Siemens

(SMAWY)

fell 5.84 euros to 169.40 (US$164.84) and

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

dropped 34.80 euros to 935.

Old Economy issues such as car and drug makers, however, posted solid gains.

BMW

climbed 0.90 euro to 31.60 and

Bayer

(BAYZY)

was up 0.18 euro at 45.80.

Around the Continent, telcos were having an off day, with

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

falling 0.95 euro to 90.35,

France Telecom

(FTE)

dipping 2.70 euros to 189.50 and

Alcatel

(ALA)

down 3.70 euros to 230.50.