Tue close: Greece worries prompt sell-offf

More uncertainty in Greece and mixed economic data from the States drove sellers into the market in the first session after the Bank Holiday.

The FTSE 100 finished down 82.73 points (-1.18%) at 6,948.99, its first decline in six trading sessions.

Turbulence in Greece, where there is talk of a tax on cash dispensers, has made traders feel nervous and fuelling a belief that Greece may be close to defaulting on its debt repayments.

Interior Minister Niko Voutsis said on Sunday that the government simply won’t have the money it is due to repay the International Monetary Fund next month unless it agrees a deal with international creditors over further aid. Greece is due to repay €1.6n to the IMF between 5 June and 19 June.

US economic data was also in focus: durable goods orders fell 0.5% as expected, house prices increased a less-than-forecast 0.3%, service-sector growth eased for a third month in a row, new home sales rose more than anticipated, while consumer confidence unexpectedly increased.

Weaker oil prices weighed on shares of Shell, BP, BG Group, Tullow Oil and Premier Oil, with Brent crude down 2.8%.

Banking shares were also sold as risk appetite waned. Even defensive stocks, including utility groups Centrica and United Utilities and pharmaceutical peers Hikma and Glaxosmithkline failed to attract interest.

Royal Mail was among the few risers after Cantor Fitzgerald upgraded the postal delivery business from ‘sell’ to ‘hold’ and hiked its target price from 440p to 500p.

Irish airline Ryanair surged after posting a 66% rise in full-year profit after tax as passenger numbers grew more than three times the company’s targeted level. Rival carrier Easyjet also finished higher, along with travel-sector peer and cruise operator Carnival, bolstered by falling oil prices.

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