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26 Mar, 2008

The market was down at 12.30pm, led lower by miner Xstrata which reached a mutual agreement to terminate merger discussions with Vale Rio do Doce.

The FTSE was lower by 23.3 points to 5,665.8, with Xstrata down 6.94%, having shed 259p to hit £34.57 per share.

Banks added to the gloom, with RBS lower by 4.75p, to 346.25p per share, while Aviva also slumped, plunging 34.5p to 601p per share.

The insurance giant was hit after the shares went ex-dividend today.

Other strugglers included pharma GlaxoSmithKline, which fell to 28p to 1,046p per share after Morgan Stanley cut its price target on the firm.

Despite the woes experienced by Xstrata, other miners were up today, with Anglo American and Kazakhmys both higher.

Anglo topped the leaderboard, gaining 109p to take it to 2,951p per share. Silver miner Lonmin was also steeper, gaining 115p per share to touch 3,140p.

The other notable riser was Sainsbury, the supermarket chain gaining 11p per share to hit 347.5 after a positive trading update.

In contrast to the blue chips, the FTSE250 was up 21.9 points up, at 9,817.2, buoyed by miners including Aquarius Platinum and Ferrexpo.

The top riser was DSG International, the owner of Dixon's, which has seen its share price more than halve in the last six months.

The stock was up 9.47%, gaining 6.25p a share to reach 72.25p, driven by what traders called a 'bear squeeze.'

However, it was not all good news, as poor housing data from the US yesterday hit firms such as Bovis Homes, which fell 31.5p to hit 566p per share.

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