Direct Line drags FTSE 100 down 1.8%
(Close): London's leading shares closed almost 110 points lower on Thursday, with insurer Direct Line leading the slide with a 9% fall.
Losses mounted in late trading to leave the FTSE 100 1.8% lower at 6,036.7 points.
Direct Line was one of several companies going ex-dividend, along with BHP Billiton, which fell 4.9%.
Supermarket chain Morrisons, which recently returned to the FTSE 100, was another big faller, shedding 4.5%.
The decline came after the retailer posted a further drop in annual profits as a result of the price war in the supermarket sector.
Shopping centre owner Intu Properties, a recent entrant to the FTSE, was the top riser, adding almost 1.5% to 299.8p.
The company, whose centres include Lakeside in Essex and the Trafford and Arndale centres in Manchester, is worth just over £4bn.