London’s top flight index stumbled back into the red as it struggled to build on recent gains despite a strong boost from Centrica and BAE Systems.
The FTSE 100 Index was down 33.7 points to 5995.6, as British Gas owner Centrica saw shares climb 4% after announcing a better-than-feared fall in operating profits.
Centrica said underlying earnings fell 4% to £863 million, while operating profits at its British Gas residential supply arm jumped 31% to £574 million last year. Shares rose 7.4p to 201.4p.
Defence giant BAE Systems also saw its share price take off after increased aircraft deliveries to Saudi Arabia boosted last year’s results, while higher global defence spending should see earnings rise in 2016.
BAE Systems shares were up 5.7p to 505p respectively.
But the wider top tier was weighed down by falling commodity stocks in the wake of disappointing economic news from China and a slip in the price of oil.
China’s inflation figures came in below expectations at 1.8%, while Brent crude bounced back from earlier falls, rising slightly to 34.5 US dollars a barrel.
Miners Anglo American and Glencore were among the biggest fallers, dropping 27.1p to 440.9p and 4.4p to 115.6p respectively.