THE London market saw out 2014 with a whimper rather than a bang, with the top-flight index ending the year almost 200 points short of its level at the start of January.
Amid thin trading volumes, the FTSE 100 staged a muted recovery in the wake of the previous session’s heavy drop, adding 19.09 points to close at 6,566.09.
Having started the year at 6,749, this marked the first annual fall for blue-chip stocks since 2011 as sliding oil prices and fresh concerns over the financial health of the eurozone weighed on investor sentiment.
Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, said: “As we look into 2015, the picture is clouded by Greek elections that threaten to reignite the eurozone crisis, while there seems no end in sight to the rout in oil prices.
“The FTSE lagged its peers for most of 2014 and with conditions as they are it will struggle to keep up in the year ahead.”
With many traders still on holiday, those who were at their desks went shopping for stocks that had dropped in the previous session, with brewing giant SAB Miller – which fell 3 per cent on Tuesday – recovering some lost ground to close up 48p, or 1.5 per cent, at 3,361p.
Fashion retailer Next, bolstered by a solid set of Christmas trading figures, gained for a second session, adding 95p to finish at 6,820p.
Royal Mail continued to benefit from the collapse of parcel delivery and courier firm City Link, with the demise of its rival sending shares up 3.3p to 429.9p.
As oil prices hit a new five-year low below $56 a barrel, Royal Dutch Shell dipped 6p to 2,233p but BP edged up 1.7p to 411p, despite launching an internal probe to establish whether its traders were linked to the foreign exchange rigging scandal that has hit the banking sector.
Glasgow-based engineering outfit Weir Group was among the biggest FTSE 100 fallers, down 15p to 1,851p.
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