WORRIES ABOUT the Russian and Asian economies weighed heavily on equities. Footsie ended 62.7 points down at 5,399.5 after suffering an early 111.9 fall. Supporting shares were also weak with the small cap index falling close to its low point for the year.
BSkyB, the satellite television station, was one of the best performers, gaining 18p to 446p as the market warmed to its digital television packages. Fairey, the engineer, soared 55p to 339p on talk of a US takeover bid.
US STOCKS fell on concern that Asia's stumbling economies will lead to lower US company profits and that Russia's currency slump could cause problems for financial firms.
DuPont and Boeing, which export to Asia, and JP Morgan, Citicorp and Chase Manhattan Corp - all banks with overseas finance businesses - led the decline. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 49.95, or 0.6 per cent, to 8503.01 in early trading, erasing a 50-point gain.
AS OTHER Far Eastern stock markets dived, the Nikkei broke an eight-session losing streak to end 3 points higher at 15,382. Japan's benchmark index earlier fell nearly 1 per cent to 15,239, before recovering in the last minute of trade as technical short-covering ahead of the settlement of August options today emerged.
There was little turnover, with many market participants away due to the summer holidays. However, traders said the trend was still bearish.
HONG KONG stocks ended with hefty losses yesterday as fear of a devaluation of the Russian rouble and talk of another speculative attack on the Kong Kong dollar prompted heavy selling, analysts said.
The Hang Seng fell 199 points, or 2.90 per cent, to 6,660, dragged down by steep losses in HSBC Holdings, which fell 3.8 per cent, the lowest since April 1993. Hong Kong's interbank rates rose in response to Russian worries.
GERMANY'S DAX index finished volatile trading weaker, but off its lows after Wall Street turned negative as renewed anxiety over Asian and Russian financial crises scratched nerves. The floor-traded DAX closed 0.85 per cent lower at 5,356.23 points after falling to 5,239.10 points. The electronic Xetra DAX ended 0.59 per cent down at 5,355.03 points.
After spending most of the day in weak ground the market briefly recovered when US shares made gains in early trading.