Stronger oil and mining stocks ensured the London market maintained its lofty position today, despite jitters over the outcome of Greece debt talks. The country’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis says he remains hopeful of a bailout deal, even though there have been few signs of progress in the discussions with EU finance ministers. The Athens stock exchange fell by 5% and the FTSE 100 Index dropped 22 points at one stage before recovering to stand 14.2 points higher at 6871.8.
Oil giant BP helped the FTSE 100 Index rally by more than 1% today after its results for the final quarter of 2014 came in ahead of City expectations. Lower oil prices meant BP’s replacement cost profit for the quarter was down to 2.24 billion US dollars (£1.49 billion), or a loss of 969 million US dollars (£645 million) when including exceptional items. The performance was at the top end of expectations and with BP also maintaining its dividend, shares surged by more than 3% or 15.7p to 453.2p.
Commodity-based stocks were lower - causing the top flight index to slump by 38.6 points to 6595 - after the price of Brent crude oil dived to a five-and-a-half year low of near to 57 US dollars a barrel. The latest fall in the price of oil was accompanied by fears over the eurozone outlook after Greece was forced to announce early national elections due to the failure of the country’s politicians to elect a new president.
A volatile session saw the FTSE 100 Index fluctuate between positive and negative territory today as the fall-out from falling oil prices continued. Brent crude dipped below 60 US dollars a barrel for the first time since 2009, meaning the energy industry benchmark is now down by about 50% since the summer amid concerns about weakening demand and oversupply. The slump has been worst felt in Russia, where a sudden hike in interest rates from 10.5% to 17% overnight failed to prevent a fresh decline in the value of the rouble, which stood at a new record low.