The FTSE 100 share index fell 24.6 points to 5,891.3 (down 0.4 per cent) on Thursday.

Banks fell on Thursday with Barclays, Lloyds TSB and Alliance & Leicester all dropping around 3-4 per cent.

Insurance companies also fell with the banks with Royal and Sun Alliance dropping 3.4 per cent and Legal & General falling 5.2 per cent.

Property companies also saw their values fall, Hammerson dropped 1.8 per cent, Liberty International fell 3.1 per cent while British Land dropped 3.8 per cent.

Gambling company Rank Group was one of the big losers of the day, falling 10.8 per cent after reports of a takeover by Malaysian company Genting were dismissed.

Oil companies made small gains with BP rising 0.4 per cent and Royal Dutch Shell rising 1.1 per cent. Gas company BG Group also rose 3.5 per cent.