Falling oil and healthcare stocks drag FTSE down
THE FTSE 100 edged lower yesterday as falling oil prices and healthcare stocks dragged on the UK index.
The UK's main market closed lower by 0.5 per cent or 34.1 points at 6986.4 points, after rising as high as 7067.3 earlier in the session.
Sterling was also trading lower, down 0.3 per cent against the dollar at 1.22. The pound was relatively flat against the euro at 1.12.
The FTSE 100 was weighed down by commodity-linked stocks, which took their cue from falling oil prices, and a dip in healthcare shares which suffered on the back of regulatory jitters.
Jasper Lawler, a market analyst at CMC Markets, said: "The healthcare sector was a drag on the UK share index since the regulatory scrutiny of Syngenta's takeover by ChemChina lowers the chance of success for German pharmaceutical firm Bayer acquiring Monsanto."
The shaky sentiment hit shares in Hikma Pharmaceuticals, which fell 53p to 1854p, Shire which dropped 107.5p to 4945.5p, and AstraZeneca which lost 101p to close at 4851p.
A 1.4 per cent drop in Brent crude oil prices weighed on commodity stocks, including Anglo American, which fell 28.5p to 1065p, Randgold which dropped 170p to 6985p, and Fresnillo which lost 33p to sit at 1613p.
Oil prices were knocked by news that Iraq is seeking an exemption from any Opec deal that would usher in a production freeze or output cut in hopes of supporting prices.
Brent crude was trading at US$51.16 per barrel.
Across Europe, the French Cac 40 and German Dax closed higher, up by 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.
Away from the UK's top tier index, shares in Cobham dropped 20.9p to 139.7p after the struggling aerospace and defence firm issued a profit warning following "challenging" trading in the third quarter.
Full-year profits are set to come in between £255 million and £275m after being dragged down by a lacklustre performance from its satcom and wireless business unit and its integrated electronic solutions arm.
Shares in French Connection rose 4.75p to 37.5p on reports that the company was being eyed for a takeover.
The clothing and homeware brand is said to have drawn interest from US firm Neuberger Berman, while the retailer has also sought advice from investment boutique Moelis, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
Shares in Petra Diamonds rose 7.9p to 147.7p after the firm said production jumped nearly a third in to 1.1 million carats in the three months to the end of September. Revenue over the period hit US$94.7m (£77.5m), with 745,447 carats sold.
The biggest gainers on the FTSE 100 were Provident Financial up 84p to 3089p, DCC up 125p at 6705p, EasyJet up 13p at 931.5p, and Standard Life up 4.7p at 341.4p.
The biggest losers were Hikma Pharmaceuticals down 53p at 1854p, Anglo American down 28.5p at 1065.5p, Randgold down 170p to 6985p, and United Utilities Group down 21p to 933p.