Energy firms inquiry prompts shares dip for British Gas owner Centrica

Shares left down nearly 2 per cent, or 5.3p, to 308.9p, while rival SSE was off 6p to 1351p

British Gas owner Centrica suffered a shares fall after Energy Secretary Ed Davey called for radical reform of the energy supply market.

It emerged that it was singled out by Mr Davey in a letter asking regulator Ofgem to examine whether the industry's profit margins for gas should be the subject of a market investigation.

The wider FTSE 100 Index climbed 19.9 points to 6591.6 over the course of the session but Centrica and rival SSE were among the fallers.

Mr Davey said there was evidence that British Gas had tended “to charge one of the highest prices over the past three years, and has been on average the most profitable”.

The Cabinet minister's fresh intervention in the energy debate knocked as much as £600 million off the value of Centrica as the stock fell nearly 4 per cent during the day.

It pared some of the losses by the end of the session, to leave shares down nearly 2 per cent, or 5.3p, to 308.9p, while rival SSE was off 6p to 1351p.

But Centrica stock is now down by nearly a quarter since Ed Miliband's pledge last autumn to freeze bills if Labour won the next election.

Elsewhere, equities markets in Europe saw a mixed performance, with France's Cac 40 up and German's Dax down.

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was in negative territory as traders took profits following a rally on Friday's US employment figures.

On currency markets, the pound was flat at 1.64 US dollars and 1.20 euros.

Meanwhile in London, banking group Barclays announced its headline full-year profit figures a day early.

The stock market disclosure came after a report in the Financial Times said that the bank was set to reveal a one-third fall in operating profits to £5.17 billion, while bottom-line profits should triple to £2.86 billion.

Barclays, which is due to present its results at 7am on Tuesday, confirmed that the figures were set to be £5.2 billion and £2.9 billion respectively.

Even though the underlying figure was below the City's consensus forecast of around £5.4 billion, Barclays shares held on to earlier gains to stand 3.3p higher at 275p.

Elsewhere in the top flight, shares in Vodafone initially fell on speculation that it is preparing a seven billion euro (£5.8 billion) bid for Spanish cable company Ono as it attempts to revive its European business, but later recovered to finish flat at 222p.

The UK company is currently cash rich after the 130 billion US dollars (£78 billion) sale of its stake in US mobile phone operator Verizon Wireless.

Outside the FTSE 100, shares in set-top box maker Pace led the way in the FTSE 250 Index after Barclays improved its rating on the Yorkshire-based firm. Shares rallied 27.7p to 385.5p, a rise of nearly 8%.

The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Fresnillo, up 70p to 862.5p, Petrofac up 37p to 1232p, Amec up 31p to 1073p and Randgold Resources ahead 106p to 4530p.

The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were Hargreaves Lansdown off 49p at 1304p, G4S down 6.1p to 229p, Babcock International down 25p to 1342p and Centrica down 5.3p to 308.9p.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£12500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Adviser - OTE £24,500

£22500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound and outbound calls with...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'