FTSE comes off recent gains as oil stocks hit - London Report

THE FTSE 100 retreated from five-month highs yesterday as oil stocks slipped, while investment company Hargreaves Lansdown fell after its interim profits declined.

The premier index closed down by 0.2 per cent at 6,860.02 points, after reaching its highest level since September on Tuesday.

Hargreaves fell 7.6 per cent, the worst-performing FTSE 100 stock in percentage terms. Its first-half pre-tax profits fell to £101.9m from £104.1m a year earlier.

“The problem is the competition aspect -- fees are going to come under pressure from outside, or will go down anyway as clients demand cheaper transactions,” said IG analyst Chris Beauchamp.

Oil stocks Tullow Oil and Royal Dutch Shell also fell, tracking a retreat in the price of crude.

Shell has also been hindered by negotiations making no progress this week as the oil giant and union leaders haggled over a new wage contracts for US refinery workers who have been on strike for three days.

Oil prices fell yesterday as renewed concerns over global demand and ample stockpiles halted a brief recovery, after prices fell to six-year lows last month.

The decline in oil prices muted the effect of a decision by China’s central bank to cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves. China’s move did lift the shares of Asian-focused bank Standard Chartered, which outperformed to rise 0.5 per cent.

Also outperforming was media group Sky, whose advance boosted its television rival, ITV, as well.

Sky, which was formed from the combination of Britain's BSkyB, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia to serve 20m customers in Europe, advanced 1.3 per cent after posting a 16 per cent rise in first-half adjusted operating profit. ITV rose 3.6 per cent.

The FTSE climbed to 6,904.86 points in early September, its highest since early 2000, then lost ground in October. The index is up by around 4.5 per cent so far in 2015.

Big gainers for the day included Low & Bonar, up 9.35 per cent, Fenner, up 8.4 per cent and Petra Diamonds, up 4.42 per cent.

The largest falls behind Hargreaves Lansdown on the index were Afren, down 6.25 per cent, Premier Oil, down 5.79 per cent and Tullow Oil, down 5.15 per cent on the day.