The FTSE closed 0.4% down to 4118.90, led by energy stocks after concerns that lower oil prices will...
The FTSE closed 0.4% down to 4118.90, led by energy stocks after concerns that lower oil prices will reduce earnings at BP and Shell Transport. The oil companies pulled the index down by 41 points.
BP's shares dropped 24.5p, or 5.4%, to 427.5 after US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that a compromise over Iraq may be possible, reducing expectations of a military strike that might disrupt supply from the Middle East's fifth-largest oil producer.
Shell Transport & Trading, owner of 40% of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, dropped 15.75p, or 3.7%, to 411.75.
Another notable decline was Compact Power Holdings, where shares dropped 15p, or 37%, to 25.5 earlier touching a record low of 12.5p. Full-year earnings for the maker of equipment that turns waste into energy will be ``significantly'' below analysts' forecasts.
A better day for Friends Provident, which led gains for the insurance sector after saying third-quarter sales advanced. Shares rose 7.5p, or 6.1%, to 133.5. The insurer, whose stock has plunged 44% since its July 2001 debut, said third-quarter sales rose after it bought Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group fund unit. Sales of life insurance, pensions and mutual funds climbed 6.7%.
The same can't be said for Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance, whose shares have fallen 67% this year, and have continued to fall today, by 5.25p, or 4.3 percent, to 115.75. Concern continues that the insurer may use part of the proceeds of a share sale to pay asbestos-related claims in the US.
Legal & General Insurance also saw its shares decline, by 4.75p, or 4.2%, to 108.25 as the insurer completed taking orders for shares on sale in a £786 million rights offering.
But hedge fund company Man Group advanced 27p, or 2.7%, to 1017, extending yesterday's 4.7% gain. The rise follows Man's decision to buy GNI Holdings, a derivatives broker owned by Old Mutual, to diversify its business.
Shares for fitness club Holmes Place fell 13p, or 13%, to a record low of 88.5p after an analyst cut his recommendation on the stock to sell from hold.
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