FTSE in red on falling oil

The London market sank into the red today as falling oil prices overshadowed advances from caterer Compass and platinum specialist Johnson Matthey.

The London market sank into the red today as falling oil prices overshadowed advances from caterer Compass and platinum specialist Johnson Matthey.

The FTSE 100 Index was 84 points lower at 4087.2 by mid-morning as oil eased back towards the 50 US dollars a barrel mark, impacting the likes of Royal Dutch Shell and BP.

Sentiment was also dampened by a subdued end to Wall Street trading overnight on worse than expected US GDP figures, although data showing an unchanged 0.5% fall in third-quarter UK output held no nasty surprises for investors.

BP and its Anglo-Dutch rival were among the heavyweight casualties of the session as oil slipped back on demand concerns. BP was 21.25p lower at 499.25p, or 4%, while Shell lost 72p to 1577p.

Rio Tinto also shipped further losses in the wake of the collapse of its takeover by BHP Billiton, down 39p to 1093p.

The leading Footsie faller however was Halifax Bank of Scotland, down 7% or 6.1p to 90.9p as market attention turned to the extent of its exposure to the faltering housebuilding sector.

The leading riser was Johnson Matthey, up 12% or 88.5p to 811p after it said an expected fall in second half profits should be in line with market expectations.

It was closely followed by Compass, which rose 20.75p to 278.25p – a gain of 7% - after the company posted a sharp rise in profits and said it was well placed for further growth in 2009.

Mining firm Antofagasta was another gainer, adding 32.5p to 433.75p despite predictions of a 16% fall in its underlying earnings during the third quarter from Credit Suisse due to lower metal prices and higher costs.

Sector peer BHP Billiton continued its advance as investors gave the thumbs-up to its decision to abandon the Rio Tinto takeover deal. Shares added 29p to 1080p.

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