LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) took a hit this morning and is down 147 points, or 2.3%, as of 7:40 a.m. EDT after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke of potentially ending the stimulus program next year.
Following last night's press conference, global markets have fallen this morning, with Japan's Nikkei index losing 231 points, or 1.7%. Every single share in the FTSE 100 fell as the stock market opened this morning, with similar scenes across Europe in Germany's DAX, Spain's IBEX, and France's CAC.
Likening the move to "letting up a bit on the gas pedal as the car picks up speed, [and] not pressing on the brake," Bernanke confirmed that if forecasts are correct, then the Federal Reserve would look to end its bond-buying scheme in the summer of 2014. The process is due to begin sometime in 2013 when unemployment is reduced to about 7% -- the latest figures from May show that America's unemployment rate stands at 7.6%.
The FTSE's slump wasn't helped by a fall in the price of gold following the Fed's announcement, with the likes of Randgold Resources particularly feeling the effects today: The miner is currently down 6%.
To compound matters, there was also negative news from China, showing that factory output has fallen to its lowest level since last September, while rumors are circulating that the Chinese government is set to tighten credit conditions on lending. China's CSI300 slid 3.3% to a six-month low.
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