Beset by uncertainty over the political situation in Greece, or the oil price wars raging between the US and Middle East, the FTSE closed its last full day of trading in 2014 with a sigh and a whimper, waiting to see what a new year offers.
Ending an eight-day Santa Rally, the FTSE 100 closed down 86.51 points or 1.3 per cent to 6547; gas and oil stocks took a knock as keen investors shifted their money into gold and silver.
The cost of Brent Crude dipped briefly to below $57 a barrel yesterday, hitting a new five-and-a-half-year low as more traders came round to the idea that the low oil prices are here to stay, with the Middle Eastern Opec cartel unlikely to slow production soon.
The bears helped send the listed oil companies down, with Royal Dutch Shell falling 48.5p to 2,160p, BP closing 8.7p down at 409.3p, despite announcing its latest Kinnoull North Sea drilling programme, and BG falling 21.1p to 868.6p.
Looking for a safe haven before tonight’s festivities, investors turned to traditional gold and silver shares, with Fresnillo jumping 19p to 768.5p and Randgold Resources rising 94p to 4,338p.
They were two of only nine blue chip companies to see shares rise during yesterday’s trading, and their recovery was matched by the two airlines that took a dent on Monday.
Savvy traders made a quick return on the uncertainty of terror attacks, with International Consolidated Airlines closing up 10p at 481.7p, regaining the loss made at the start of the week.
Easyjet did not quite recover the lost ground, closing up 22p at 1,664p, but that may be because it had to cancel almost 70 flights today owing to strikes by its French air stewards.
Retail bulls were talking up the possibility of a decent Christmas for the high street, helped in their cause by a strong set of results from Next, which topped the FTSE 100 risers; shares were up 210p at 6,725p, no doubt helped by another special dividend.
Early gains in the day by rivals such as Associated British Foods, owner of Marks & Spencer and Primark, were soon washed out with the two closing down 5.7p at 477.5p and 65p at 3,146p respectively.
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