Shares in British banks were down on the FTSE 100 in morning trading as news from around the world helped dampen the spirits of investors.

Ten people are reported to have died and much property has been destroyed as a result of a tsunami that hit Japan.

Across the Sea of Japan there was some concerning economic news after Chinese inflation rose by a much higher than expected 4.9 per cent.

Closer to home the conflict in Libya has continued to rage but a US official has now said that despite earlier hopes and expectations Colonel Gaddafi is likely to defeat the rebels.

Meanwhile in Europe concerns about sovereign debt came back into focus this week after Spain and Greece had their credit ratings cut by Moody's and Portugal was forced to pay a premium on sales of its debt.

By 10:10 shares in Lloyds Banking Group were down 0.71 per cent to 60.13 pence per share, RBS shares declined 0.63 per cent to 42.73 pence per share, Barclays shares fell 1.61 per cent to 296.55 pence per share and HSBC shares dropped 0.41 per cent to 657.30 pence per share.

Overall the FTSE 100 was down 0.66 per cent to 5,806.94.