Scottish energy major SSE was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100 as traders reacted to Ed Miliband’s latest proposals for the sector.
Shares in SSE were almost 6 per cent lower after the opposition leader said regulator Ofgem should be given powers to force down prices.
Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “The fact that those energy firms involved in household supply are getting battered again today is perhaps offering some clues that the market believes the Labour party may end up in a position of power after the general election.”
SSE was 92p lower at 1,503, while Scottish Gas parent Centrica slipped 7.8p to 261p. The wider FTSE 100 was almost unchanged for the day, up just 0.28 points at 6,501.42, despite plenty of intra-day movement.
Other European indices had rallied on the back of the latest reports suggesting the eurozone’s central bankers are preparing to splurge €500 billion (£390bn) on corporate bonds, but London was held back by its beleaguered commodity stocks.
Brent crude slipped a further 5 per cent to below $48 a barrel, pushing shares in BP down 2.1p to 396.6p and Royal Dutch Shell 33.5p lower at 2,126.5p - with both having already fallen significantly since last summer, when Brent crude stood at more than twice its current value.
The implications for the wider oil and gas industry were highlighted in a profits warning from oil rig engineering firm Lamprell.
It enjoyed a strong 2014 but expects that revenues for this year will be around 10 per cent below current expectations as a large number of players chase fewer projects, leading to increased pressure on margins. Its shares dived by 15 per cent or 17.25p to 95.25p and put pressure on Glasgow-based Weir Group, which fell 44p to 1,723p.