Britain's main equity index fell yesterday for a third day in a row as a further drop in the price of oil hit energy stocks.
The blue chip FTSE 100 index closed down by 0.5 per cent, or 29.43 points, at 6,500.04 points – its lowest closing level since early November.
Following the decline in crude prices – Brent fell to $65 a barrel yesterday – oil services group Petrofac led the fallers, down 3.37 per cent at 717p, while BG lost 2.94 per cent to 872.40p despite the £3bn sale of its Australian pipeline business.
Royal Dutch Shell B shares lost 2.6 per cent to 2,098.50p while BP dropped 1.56 per cent to 399.60p.
However, airlines benefited from the prospect of cheaper fuel costs, with British Airways and Iberia owner International Airlines Group up 0.55 per cent at 460.50p and easyJet 1.11 per cent better at 1,643p.
Cruise company Carnival climbed 0.92 per cent to 2,744p as Numis raised its target price from 2,550p to 2,950p.
Positive results from equipment hire group Ashtead pushed its shares to the top of the FTSE 100, up 9.1 per cent at 1,175p.
Amid the mid-caps, retailer N Brown rose 7.06 per cent to 350.20p following a rebound in sales after a weak September due to unseasonable weather.
But Standard Chartered fell 1.09 per cent to 934p as US regulators extended monitoring of the bank, which was fined $667m for violating sanctions on Iran and other countries, by three years to 2017.
The bank announced it had set up a board committee responsible for financial crime compliance.
Carillion, the support services and construction group, closed down 1.21 per cent to 341.80p as it said it expected a slowdown in the award of UK government contracts ahead of next year’s general election.
It also effectively ruled out a renewed bid for rival Balfour Beatty, down 0.32 per cent at 189p.
Quindell, the troubled services group, crashed 28 per cent to 32.75p after news that former boss Robert Terry had sold some £8m worth of shares to take his stake down to just 2.99 per cent from 8.73 per cent.
JNF Capital trader Rick Jones said he would look to buy into the FTSE if it fell below 6,500 points, on optimism the index was poised for a year-end rally often seen in stock markets that would push it back up to 6,800 points.