Energy stocks led the FTSE 100 Index to a sixth consecutive day of losses today after the price of oil fell off its record highs.
Heavyweights BP, Shell and BG Group headed the list of blue-chip fallers as investors expressed concern at the potential impact of crude prices dipping to 63 US dollars a barrel.
The Footsie lost 23.4 points to stand at 5269.3, leaving it more than 100 points off last week’s peak.
Oil heavyweights BP and Shell – which make up around 20% of the top flight - both lost around 2% of their market value. Shell was the second heaviest blue-chip faller, losing 43p to 1840p, while BP weakened 12.5p to 624p. Gas group BG was the worst-hit, its shares falling 13.25p to 491.25p.
In contrast, oil-dependent stock Carnival made progress, adding 45p to 2907p, while shares in carrier British Airways increased 0.75p to 286.5p.
Shire Pharmaceuticals was on the rise amid speculation of a possible collaboration with another firm over its hyperactivity drug Adderall XR, a broker said. Shire soared to the top of the risers board – adding more than 6% or 41.5p to 681p.
Also in the drugs sector, GlaxoSmithKline advanced 20p to 1338p as it benefited from a broker upgrade. JP Morgan lifted the stock to “neutral” from “underweight” after saying there was a “high probability of a near term earnings surprise”.
Banking group Royal Bank of Scotland was also doing its best to lift spirits after a ground-breaking deal for a stake in a Chinese bank boosted its shares.
RBS advanced 27p to 1634p after announcing it was part of a consortium buying a 10% stake in Bank of China.
This did little for its rivals, which were all in the red. Northern Rock was the sector’s biggest faller, off 10p to 802.5p, while Barclays slipped 6.5p to 556.5p and Halifax and Bank of Scotland group HBOS lost 9.5p to 873.5p.
A string of insurers were also out of favour with Legal & General the hardest hit, down 1.75p to 108.75p. Other fallers in the sector included Norwich Union owner Aviva, which lost 6p to 815.5p and Prudential, retreating 3.5p to 511p.
Among firms reporting today, engineering group Weir edged 1.75p lower to 358.25p despite posting a 1.5% rise in underlying profits to £24.4 million in the six months to June 30, hitting the top end of expectations.
Waste processing firm TEG Environmental was upbeat after announcing it had signed a £1 million a year contract to process animal waste in Scotland – its biggest deal since floating last year. Its shares lifted 11% or 5p to 48p.
The highest Footsie risers today were Shire Pharmaceuticals up 41.5p to 681p, Hays adding 2.25p to 132.25p, Royal Bank of Scotland up 27p to 1634p and Carnival adding 45p to 2907p.
The heaviest fallers were BG Group down 13.25p to 491.25p, Royal Dutch Shell off 43p to 1840p, BP down 12.5p to 624p and Legal & General off 1.75p to 108.75p.