The London market was rooted in the red as blue-chip stocks continued to suffer in response to the weak oil price.
The FTSE 100 Index closed down 15.16 points to 7,424.13 despite Brent crude crawling back above the $45-a-barrel mark following a fall in the US dollar.
The greenback sank against a range of currencies after traders questioned the strength of the US economy after updates on the nation’s services and manufacturing sectors came in shy of expectations.
Brent crude was up 1 per cent to $45.68 a barrel, with oil major Royal Dutch Shell B dropping 1p to 2,096.5p and mining giant Antofagasta falling 2.5p to 772p.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “The energy market has been exceptionally volatile lately, and now that the market is pulling back some of this week’s losses the price is certainly steadier.”
On the currency markets, the pound was enjoying an uplift against the US dollar after America’s worse-than-expected economic news sent it 0.4 per cent higher at $1.27.
Sterling was also buoyed by hawkish comments from outgoing Bank of England rate-setter Kristin Forbes, who said record-low interest rates were no longer justified. The UK currency was flat against the euro at €1.136.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index included Fresnillo up 45p to 1,605p, Ashtead up 39p to 1,620p and Old Mutual up 4.2p to 198.4p.
The biggest fallers included Smurfit Kappa down 60p to 2,359p, Shire down 107.5p to 4,518.5p and BAE Systems down 14.5p to 650p.