London stocks entrenched their losses to midday with both the blue-chip and mid-cap indices down almost 1%, and top-100 outfit Pearson (PSON) plunging more than 10% as investors took fright at a company update.
Pearson (PSON), down 11.08% to 740.25p, reiterated its 2016 guidance and said its 2018 goals were unchanged. It also reported a tumble in American sales, and flagged lacklustre demand for vocational exams in UK.
It was followed by a mixed bag of sectors, among them several house builders behind Barratt (BDEV), off 2.68% to 469.75p, despite Rightmove data showing a rise in UK house prices. Persimmon (PSN) faded 1.99% to 1672p.
Also lower were insurers in the wake of Standard Life (SL.), lower 2.49% to 328.7p, high-street retail after Next (NXT), down 2.08% to 4506.5p, and several supermarkets trailing Sainsbury (SBRY), dipping 1.52% to 229.35p.
Tobacco stocks, commercial property, pharmas, utilities, consumer goods, investment specialists and oil majors were also softer. Blue-chip fallers outnumbered risers 91 to nine. About 45 blue chips fell by 1% or more.
Approaching noon, FTSE 100 was down 55.57 points, or 0.79%, to 6957.98, while FTSE 250 was down 169.33, or 0.94%, to 17,810.8. At 11.41am, WTI crude was down 0.28% to $50.21/bbl and Brent was down 0.1% to $51.90/bbl. Gold was down 0.17% to $1253.4.1/oz.
Traders are jittery over the impact of a so-called 'hard Brexit,' and have a wary eye on sterling, inflation and the UK economy as a result.
To the limited upside, miners were in focus. Glencore (GLEN) added 1.58% to 231.85p, while Anglo American (AAL) firmed 0.52% to 1011.25p.
SSE (SSE), down 0.48% to 1540.50p, has agreed to sell a 16.7% equity stake in Scotia Gas Networks Ltd to wholly owned subsidiaries of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) for a headline consideration of £621m.
Oilex (OEX), up 13.58% to 0.46p, has executed an agreement with its JV partner, Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Ltd (GSPC), in the Cambay Field Production Sharing Contract (PSC) on the next planned vertical well in the Cambay Field (Well C-78).
600 Group (SIXH), up 13.75% to 11.38p, said that, following its successful application to the Spanish Courts, it has acquired the entire manual machine tools business of Kondia, for a total consideration of €50,000.
Starcom (STAR), down 12.5% to 2.63p, has provided an update on a suit that was filed by Top-Alpha Capital Ltd against CEO Avi Hartmann, COO Doron Kedem and the company and its subsidiaries, as announced on Dec. 3, 2014.
UK house prices rose 0.9% in October, Rightmove said. This was from a rise of 0.7% in September. The average asking price for a house was £309,122.
Italy's trade balance for August was a surplus of €2.519bn, which was well below forecasts for an overrun of €4.25bn. The previous surplus was €7.8bn.
Luceco (LUCE), trading at 148.5p, has announced the successful pricing of its IPO of 71.6m shares at 130p each, giving it a market capitalisation of about £209.0 million. Great Western Mining (GWMO), down 11.34% to 0.54p, has raised £0.5m via a placing of 125m new shares at 0.4p.
MySQUAR (MYSQ), up 10% to 4.13p, said that, as of Oct. 14, registered users across all apps and games have exceeded 6m. In addition, a new, more sophisticated version of MyCHAT is expected to be released in the fourth quarter of the calendar year 2016.
Modern Water (MWG), up 6.38% to 6.25p, said its Monitoring Division has received order commitments from customers in the Asia Pacific region, in excess of £550,000, for its range of online toxicity and trace metal monitoring equipment.
Serabi Gold (SRB), up 4.88% to 5.38p, has provided an operational update for Q3 of 2016 on its wholly owned Palito and Sao Chico gold operations in the Tapajos region of Para State, Northern Brazil.
Utilitywise (UTW), up 3.98% to 130.88p, has been selected by Asda Stores Ltd as the Walmart-owned supermarket retailer's chosen supplier of Internet of Things (IoT) Building solutions.
Sareum (SAR), up 2.27% to 1.13p, said the Japan and Singapore Patent Offices have issued notifications that patents will be granted for inventions associated with Sareum's Aurora+FLT3 kinase inhibitor programme.
Marlowe (MRL), up 5.08% to 310p, has acquired Hentland Ltd for a total enterprise value of up to £7.6m on a cash and debt-free basis.
W Resources (WRES), down 0.81% to 0.61p, announces the next phase of results from the reverse circulation (RC) drilling programme at the Fast Track Mine (FTM) area of the La Parrilla Mine in Spain.
Cohort (CHRT), up 4.87% to 355p, said subsidiary MASS has been awarded a nine-year extension to its managed IT service contract for the Sentry Whole Life Support Programme (WLSP) at RAF Waddington. The support contract is valued at about £12m.
Other stocks in the news included Lok'nStore Group (LOK), Bezant (BZT), Kromek (KMK), RedstoneConnect (REDS), Anglo Asian Mining (AAZ), Unite Students (UTG), Helical (HLCL), Zytronic (ZYT), Stellar Resources (STG), UK Oil & Gas (UKOG), Regency Mines (RGM), Solo Oil (SOLO), Elecosoft (ELCO), Plant Health Care (PHC), Interserve (IRV), AB Dynamics (ABDP), Redhall (RHL), LondonMetric Property (LMP), Applied Graphene Materials (AGM), Lekoil (LEK), Wolf Minerals (WLFE) and Tethyan (TETH).