Big banks drag FTSE lower

The FTSE 100 fell 0.5% as big banks Barclays (BARC) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) traded 4% and 3% lower, respectively.

A downbeat report from the Council of Mortgage Lenders said new gross mortgage lending fell 5% to £20.6bn. That's weaker than the forecast 0.4% decline and caused investor jitters over banking stocks.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) nudged lower to $45.35 and Brent crude oil was flat at $46.52 per barrel, respectively.

Copper cheapened 1.2% to $5,423 per tonne.

Gold continued to fall, dragging down shares in precious metal miners. Approximately $100 had been shaved off the gold price since early November.

Fresnillo (FRES), Randgold Resources (RRS), Centamin (CEY) all fell by 6% or more in response to the gold price decline.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Industrial group Electrocomponents (ECM) was up 16% at 429.4p on a solid set of half year results showing a return of growth in the US and Asia. While headline revenues were largely flat, profits rallied strongly on a combination of operating efficiencies and lower one-off costs.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Higher volumes in India helped support services firm CPP (CPP) trade strong in the early part of its second half, prompting a likely forecast-busting performance for the full year for operating profits. The news triggered substantial investor interest, sparking a 58% leap in the share price to 8.5p.

Minerals microcap Strategic Minerals (SML) revealed positive news from its operation in Cobre, New Mexico, and settled a litigation case that will net the company a $675,000 award.

Tech tools provider Oxford Instruments (OXIG) disposed of Oxford Instruments Superconducting Wire to Bruker Energy and Supercon Technologies for $17.5m in cash.

Oil services firm Cape (CIU) revealed slower projects and softened demand in the Middle East as oil prices remained low. The company said it expected to trade slightly better than market expectations, but this was offset by litigation concerns. It also said it was compelled to put an extra £9.7m aside as the threat of legal action due to industrial health claims by workers rose. That dragged the shares down 15.9% to 157.88p.

Oil exploration minnow Sirius Petroleum (SRSP) nudged 1.4% higher to 0.5p following a well management agreement with international energy consultancy Add Energy.

British luxury brand Jimmy Choo (CHOO) put its best foot forward with a strong trading update as revenue growth increased through new store openings and improved retail trading in the second half.

Mkango Resources (MKA) said the government of Malawi granted a further two-year renewal for an exclusive exploration licence 0284 in south-east Malawi.