Source - SMW
UK stocks opened sharply lower on Tuesday as fears of rising interest rates continued to pound markets across the globe.

At 0855, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 120.94 points, or 1.7%, at  7,214.04. This was a material improvement on early trading when the index was down closer to 3%

BP posted a larger-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter profit on the back of higher oil prices, helping to limit the fall in the energy giant's shares to a relatively benign 1.3%.

Online food retailer Ocado shed 7.2% after it announced a share placement. Its annual earnings also fell, amid mounting staff costs and ongoing investment as it tries to compete with Amazon.

Budget carrier easyJet jettisoned 1.4% despite January passenger numbers rising by 8.7% and load factors improving by 2.2 percentage points.

Infrastructure asset manager Babcock International lowered its revenue forecast for 2018 to between £5.3bn and £5.4bn amid tough trading conditions, though it stuck to its earnings guidance as margins improved. Its shares lost 2.9%.

Wealth manager Hargreaves Lansdown reported a 12% rise in pre-tax profit for the first half, buoyed by new customer wins. Its shares shed 2%.

Broking house Numis Corporation said it had experienced a 'very strong' start to the year, with revenues significantly ahead of the comparable period last year. Its shares, however, fell 1.7%.

IT infrastructure and software provider Softcat was one of the few companies to climb into positive territory. Its shares rallied 2.5% on the back of a positive first-half trading update.

Asset administration service provider Sanne Group, meanwhile, said it had been hit with adverse foreign exchange movements in the second half. Its shares fell 5.0%.

Property regeneration specialist St. Modwen Properties boosted its trading profit and dividend, while also announcing that chairman Bill Shannon would stand down next year. Its shares eased back 0.3%.

Furniture group Walker Greenbank slipped 2.3%, with a forecast rise in annual sales of around 18% failing to impress a shell-shocked market.