September 5, 2014 / 8:55 AM / 4 years ago

Weak miners dent Britain's FTSE but BP recovers some poise

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s top shares fell back on Friday from recent 14-1/2 year highs as under-pressure metals prices took their toll on mining stocks, though shares in oil major BP managed a recovery.

A man smokes a cigarette outside The London Stock Exchange November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Shares with exposure to Russia got a lift when Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels agreed a ceasefire, with BP, which owns 20 percent of Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft, the top blue-chip riser.

But a 1 percent drop from miners dragged on the UK benchmark as gold and iron ore prices came under pressure.

Precious metal miners Fresnillo and Randgold Resources were the worst off, down 4.6 percent and 4.1 percent respectively.

The FTSE 100 closed down 22.87 points, or 0.3 percent, at 6,855.10 points, falling back from a 14-1/2 year high of 6,904.86 points reached on Thursday when the European Central Bank surprised markets by cutting interest rates.

The index is up 5 percent since early August, partly in anticipation of the ECB’s largesse. But it is yet to sustain a move above 6,900 points - a key hurdle on the path towards record highs.

“The inability to hold above 6,900 is the worrying sign in the short term but I wouldn’t call the end of this upward move just yet,” Chris Beauchamp, a strategist at IG, said.

A weak U.S. jobs report reassured investors the Federal Reserve would not speed up plans to hike interest rates, with non-farm payrolls having grown by 142,000 last month, far below the 225,000 increase forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.

While this saw the UK benchmark slightly pare back its losses, it remained in negative territory.


Oil major BP recovered some of its poise after suffering its biggest one-day percentage drop in four years on Thursday, when a U.S. judge decided it was “grossly negligent” and “reckless” in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill four years ago.

The ruling could leave BP on the hook for an additional fine of up to $18 billion (11.04 billion British pound).

Citi, which estimated that BP would be liable for less than half that amount at $8.2 billion, upgraded its rating on the stock to “buy” from “neutral”, while increasing its price target to 510 pence from 480 pence.

The shares, up 2.6 percent on Friday, trade at 466.8 pence.

“Although this is now a point of high uncertainty for investors, we believe the financial implications of this ruling will remain significantly below the maximum,” Citi said.

BP stock is still down about 30 percent since before the oil spill in 2010, while the FTSE 100 is up about 25 percent over the same period. The spill has already taken $44 billion, or roughly the price of 440 million barrels of crude, off BP’s market capitalisation.

Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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