Market Report: Footsie suffers its biggest drop since October


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With half of the City off to the races at Cheltenham, it seems only the pessimists were left at their desks.

The Footsie’s record-breaking run faded to a distance memory as the index suffered its biggest drop since October yesterday. Oil led the index lower as the price of Brent fell by 2 per cent. BG Group collapsed 68p to 851.2p, not helped by a downgrade from Redburn; Tullow Oil fell 24.3p to 321.8p; Shell lost 103.5p to 2037.5p; and BP dropped 17.6p to 428.1p.

But Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, noted: “Losses are eye-catchingly broad-based as a perfect storm builds. Data from China overnight showed a worryingly sharp dip in factory gate prices, whilst the focus is very much on the US tightening monetary policy sooner rather than later.”

Only four blue-chip stocks booked gains and the FTSE 100 closed 173.63 points lower at 6,702.84.

Chilean copper miner Antofagasta slumped 41.5p to 711p after being hit with a court order to demolish part or all of a dam at its Los Pelambres project. The ruling comes just a day after the company admitted protests have resulted in 5,000 tonnes of lost copper production. Antofagasta said it will appeal the ruling and is entitled to continue operating  for now.

William Hill will be raking in the bets at Cheltenham; but its chief executive is taking some money off the table. James Henderson, who took the top job in August, raised just over £230,000 selling shares in the bookie yesterday. William Hill, off 5.9p at 373.6p, said the sale was to help fund a move from Leeds to north London.

Allied Minds is turning out to be another shrewd investment for Neil Woodford. Woodford Investment Management bought a 17 per cent chunk of the US company, which specialises in commercialising university discoveries, during its London float last year at 190p a share. But, yesterday, Allied Minds closed up 43.5p at 608.5p. AFC Energy, the hydrogen fuel cell company backed by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, leapt 2.12p to 10.87p on AIM thanks to a deal to build clean energy generators in South Korea.