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Bank stocks pull down FTSE 100 index



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(Close): The FTSE 100 index came within 7 points of a record high today before HSBC posted disappointing results.

HSBC lost nearly 5% of its value finishing the day at 575.3p after a "challenging year" weighed on its annual results.

Shares in rival bank Standard Chartered fell 4.6% on the day to 928.6p.

The FTSE 100 closed down 3.04 points at 6,912.16. At one point it traded as high as 6,943 - just 7 points shy of its intraday high hit in December 1999.

Private security firm G4S was the FTSE 100's best performer, up 3.21% to 293p a share. Low-cost airline easyJet gained 2.8% to 1,801p per share.

The fall in London's FTSE was in contrast to rises in other European markets, where investor confidence was boosted by Friday's news that Greece had agreed a four-month bailout extension.

Germany's Dax index rose 0.7% to 11,130.92 points, while France's Cac 40 index rose 0.7%.

On the currency markets, the pound made significant gains against the dollar in afternoon trading, closing at $1.5468. The pound also strengthened against the euro to €1.36350.