As of late afternoon, with around an hour of trading left, the FTSE 100 was at 5965, some 2% down from the 6088 level it started the day at.
Miners such an Anglo American, which fell 8%, have been hit by both the ongoing slump in global demand and the recent political strife in South Africa, where the business-friendly finance minister Nhlanhla Nene has been sacked by President Jacob Zuma.
Financials with South African links such as Old Mutual, which fell 11%, also plummeted as worries about the falling value of the South African Rand and credit rating downgrades hit investor sentiment hard.
Meanwhile there was a bright spot in the form of petrol in the UK finally dropping under £1 a litre at some outlets. The price of a litre had until now remained stubbornly several pence above a pound despite the large and prolonged dip in crude oil prices.
The symbolically important drop to an amount recorded in pennies rather than pounds should provide a welcome boost to UK consumers over the festive period, assuming no quick rebound is forthcoming.