FTSE languishes in red as fluctuating oil prices hit commodity stocks
LONDON'S top flight index was left languishing in the red as the fluctuating oil price dealt a blow to commodity stocks.
The FTSE 100 Index was down 5.06 points at 6184.58, following a choppy day for the price of Brent crude, which fell by 50 cents in early trading before returning to growth by the end of the session, edging up 13 cents to US$41.3 a barrel.
However, the shifting oil price took its toll on mining stocks, with Antofagasta topping the biggest fallers, slumping 18.8p to 495.7p. Anglo American was also down 5.9p to 549.5p, while Fresnillo fell 7.5p to 980.5p.
The beleaguered mining sector has seen its confidence knocked in recent months as it struggles to cope with low oil prices and the economic slowdown in China.
Across Europe, German's Dax was slightly down at under 0.1 per cent, while the Cac 40 in France fell 0.8 per cent.
The pound was down 0.7 per cent against the dollar to 1.43, as the latest CBI industrial trends survey showed UK manufacturing suffered its biggest decline since 2009 in the three months to March.
The pound was also down 0.3 per cent against the euro at 1.27.
In stocks, supermarket giant Sainsbury's saw its share price climb 3.3p to 276.5p, as the market reacted to its £1.4 billion offer for Argos-owner Home Retail Group on Friday.
The bid came less than an hour after South African rival Steinhoff abandoned its £1.4bn pursuit of general goods retailer Argos.
Sainsbury's said the deal will allow it to become a ''world-leading'' retailer as the supermarket sector comes under intense competitive pressure.
Tesco also made gains as it threw down the gauntlet in the highly-competitive grocery sector by announcing seven new own-label brands.
Britain's biggest supermarket said the new lines were across fresh produce, meat and poultry and were at competitive prices, which would either match or undercut its rivals.
Shares were up 2.6p to 197.5p.
Meanwhile, shares in Pets at Home edged down 5p to 280p after it announced its chief executive Nick Wood had resigned.
The FTSE 250 company – which runs 413 stores across the UK and 359 veterinary practices – said Ian Kellett would step into the role of chief executive from April 4, with Mr Wood staying on as an adviser until July 1.
Mr Kellett has been a member of the company's board for 10 years after joining as chief financial officer in 2006, before being promoted to chief executive of its retail division in June 2015.
Dixons Carphone also saw its share price come under pressure after it revealed it would snap up price comparison and switching website Simplifydigital for an undisclosed sum.
The group said the takeover would strengthen its position as the "best place" to receive independent advice on technology and media products.
It said it would also help to hit its long-term plan of bolstering its services business, which offers technology support to customers in their homes.
Shares were down 3p to 438p.
The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 Index were Shire up 151p to 3842p, Paddy Power Betfair up 160p to 9025p, Tesco up 2.6p to 197.5p, Pearson up 11.5p to 906p.
The biggest fallers in the FTSE 100 Index were Antofagasta down 18.8p to 495.7p, London Stock Exchange down 69p to 2823p, Aviva down 11.2p to 475.2p and TUI down 22p to 1003p.