By the close of dealing the FTSE 100 Index was down 14.9 points at 4118.9 in another day of subdued trading following last week’s impressive rally.
Blue-chip shares started the session on the back foot following a profits warning from US chip maker Texas Instruments.
A slide in US stocks when American markets opened yesterday afternoon kept the pressure on London.
Oil stocks dragged the market lower as the price of crude dipped after remarks by US President George Bush which were interpreted as indicating the threat of war had receded.
BP was off 5%, or 24.5p at 427.5p, while Shell was down 15.75p at 411.75p. Other sharp fallers were engineering group Invensys, off 4p at 63p, after shares were hurt by a profits warning from European rival ABB.
But helping offset the falls were financial stocks, led by strong gains from life insurer Friends Provident. The former mutual society climbed 7.5p to 133.5p, after cheering the City with a jump in new business in the third quarter.
General added 4.75p at 108.25p.
The biggest Footsie risers were Shire Pharmaceuticals up 32p at 539p, Friends Provident up 7.5p at 133.5p, WPP up 24p at 461p and BSkyB up 27.5p at 625p.
Fallers were Invensys down 4p at 63p, Corus down 2.5p at 42p, BP down 24.5p at 427.5p and Royal & Sun Alliance down 5.25p at 115.75p.