FTSE slips back

FTSE slips back

The London market sunk deeper into the red today after further falls in commodity prices hit traders' confidence.

The FTSE 100 Index closed 31 points lower at 5944.96 as mining shares followed the falling price of oil and metals and dragged the market downwards.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1% as worries over declining crude oil prices were compounded by a job cut warning from communications group Cisco.

The pound was hit by disappointing manufacturing figures, which came in lower than expected. Sterling was down against the US dollar at 1.62 and the euro at 1.14.

Fresnillo was hit by soft silver prices and topped the fallers' board, down nearly 8% or 107p to 1304p, while Antofagasta dropped 47p at 1142p and Vedanta Resources fell 70p to 2095p.

A raft of US economic data failed to lift sentiment, as retail sales posted a below-consensus rise of 0.5% and producer price inflation came in higher than expected at 0.8%.

Oil prices were volatile throughout the session, which saw Petrofac lose 35p at 1449p, BG Group shed 26.5p to 1340.5p and Essar Energy retreat 8.5p to 421.6p.

In corporate results, BT shares were down 2.9p to 199p despite it reporting a 20% rise in adjusted annual profits to £2.1bn (€2.4bn) in its full-year results.

Investors were bearish even though the company said it expects to grow underlying profits for the next two years and will return to underlying sales growth in 2013.

British Gas owner-Centrica and Scottish & Southern Energy defied the slump in commodity prices to feature near the top of a shortened risers board following takeover speculation.

Centrica, up 6.5p at 318.2p, was again boosted by talk that the Qatari Investment Authority may be eyeing a takeover deal, while SSE benefited from a report that Spanish utility giant Iberdrola is mulling an offer.

SSE fed off the improved sentiment in the industry and advanced 17p to 1368p.

Outside London's top flight, shares in fashion chain SuperGroup lost some of their recent sparkle after sales growth was impacted by its failure to get enough stock into stores to meet demand during the recent heatwave.

Shares topped the FTSE 250 fallers board, down nearly 22%, or 352p to 1222p.

Currys and PC World owner Dixons Retail spared investors another profits warning but warned it expected more tough times ahead.

Dixons, which has 1,200 stores in around 28 countries, continues to expect profits of around £85m for the year to April 30, having issued its second profits alert in as many months at the end of March. Shares were flat at 15.97p.

Embattled retailer Clinton Cards posted another slump in sales but the company's plans for a website and store overhaul swayed investors as the shares reversed earlier losses and added 0.5p to 17p.

The biggest Footsie risers were 3i Group up 18.2p at 289.9p, Centrica ahead 6.5p at 318.2p, Carnival up 52p at 2642p and Tesco ahead 8p at 420.1p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Fresnillo down 107p at 1304p, Antofagasta off 47p at 1142p, Wood Group down 22p at 653p and Old Mutual off 4.4p at 130.9p.

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