FTSE indices were in a grim footrace lower to midday as escalating military violence in Yemen and the Greek-debt soap spooked global investors and also saw Wall St and European stock ladders heavily depressed. In London, financial-sector issues and property shares nosedived.

To noon, FTSE 100 was down 88.22 points, or 1.26%, to 6902.75, well off recent highs above 7000. FTSE 250 fell 284.03, or 1.62%, to 17,218.3. Crude prices were off earlier highs. At 11.4am, WTI was up 3.68% to $51.02/bbl. Brent rose 3.72% to $58.58/bbl. Gold and silver prices jumped as investors ducked away from risk.

Schroders non-voting shares (SDRC), off 5.13% to 2443p, and ordinary shares (SDR), off 4.89% to 3179.5p, were savaged. Behind was an A-Z list of broader financial-sector issues. Prudential (PRU) led insurers with a fall of 3.59% to 1679.5p, while Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) piloted investment specialists with a dive of 4.43% to 1153.5p.

Also in the frame were property stocks behind British Land (BLND), off 2.71% to 843p, and retail-related shares after Burberry (BRBY), off 2.88% to 1771.5p. ARM Holdings (ARM) sagged 4.66% to 1074p, while IAG (IAG) lost 4.57% to 579.75p. EasyJet (EZJ) fell 4.18% to 1811p despite expecting a forex boost levering its H1 performance ahead of earlier guidance.

RBS (RBS) fell 0.87% to 349.25p on selling 24.7% of US business Citizens as it moves to focus on the UK. At $23.7 a share RBS makes $3.2bn from the deal. Oil stocks rode crude's rise after Saudi Arabia launched air strikes in Yemen against Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels. BP (BP.) led with a rise of 0.51% to 450.65p. Miners, behind Fresnillo's (FRES) 1.2% gain to 719.5p, benefitted on metals prices.

BIGGER MOVERS

Arcontech (ARC) crashed 22.58% to 0.12p as investors ignored a swing into H1 profit and focused on a profit warning as a major customer terminates a contract early. Elsewhere, Metminco (MNC) surged 17.24% to 0.34p after discovering a new area of copper mineralisation next to its Los Calatos project in Peru.

Plexus (POS) gained 18.81% to 240p as it entered a framework agreement with large Chinese oil services provider Jereh for a licensing deal that would enable the latter to manufacture and sell Plexus' patented wellhead equipment in China and Asia.

Oilex (OEX), up 15.79% to 2.75p, said it was pleased with construction progress at Cambay-73,which should enable the Joint Venture to commence production during May 2015. Overall progress of the project is 77% complete.

AFC Energy (AFC), up 19.91% to 25.63p, has received its first partial building permit from the Stade permitting authorities in Germany to start construction of what will be the world's largest industrial alkaline fuel cell facility.

ECONOMIC NEWS

UK retail sales rose 0.7% in February, from January, Office for National Statistics data showed. In January sales contracted 0.3%. The market had expected a rise of 0.4% in February.

Euro-zone M3 money supply grew at an annual rate of 4.0% in February, below forecasts for 4.3% and ahead of January's 3.7%, European Central Bank data showed. The data also showed private-sector loans fell 0.1% annually in February, from a dip of 0.2% in January and against an expected 0.1% rise.

Germany's Gfk consumer climate index rose to 10.0 in February, from 9.7 in January. Expectations were for a rise to 9.8.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

London Stock Exchange (LSE) fell 8.61% to 2319.5p as Borse Dubai looks to dispose of its 17.4% stake. The chunky shareholding, worth about ã1.4bn at present prices, was being sold with the help of a consortium of investment banks, media reports said.

Scisys (SSY), down 11.76% to 82.5p, more than doubled its FY pretax profit to ã3.0m, from ã1.5m. Revenue was ã40.3m, from ã42.6m. Final dividend rose 10% to 1.17p. Meantime, DFS Furniture (DFS), down 1.49% to 256.13p, posted an H1 pretax loss of ã14.4m, from a loss of ã14.0m. Revenue was ã431.2m, from ã390.1m. Gross sales were up 10.5% to ã431.2m.

SuperGroup (SGP) strutted 6.05% higher to 990p on a well-received strategy update outlining plans to generate global growth. This includes news the Superdry brand owner has bought out its US licence and will shortly start paying dividends, as well as a premium clothing line collaboration with actor Idris Elba.

Safestyle UK (SFE), up 6% to 183.38p, has booked a FY pretax profit up 73% to ã16.4m, from ã9.5m. Revenue was ã136.0m, from ã124.8m. It recommended a final dividend of 6.2p, taking the total to 9.3p. Meantime, Henry Boot (BHY), down 5.75% to 223.38p, has posted a FY pretax profit of ã28.3m, up 54% on the year. Total dividend was 5.60p, from 5.10p.

Other stocks in the news included Science in Sport (SIS), Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), Polypipe (PLP), KCOM Group (KCOM), Highcroft Investments (HCFT), M&C Saatchi's (SAA), Polymetal (POLY), Churchill China (CHH), Seplat Petroleum Development Company (SEPL) and Personal Group (PGH).