Bleak start to June for FTSE investors

A BOOST from BP’s surprise decision to sell its troublesome Russian joint venture proved short lived as yesterday’s steady flow of dismal economic news dragged the Footsie lower.

Even BP itself surrendered most of its early gains as the price of Brent crude dropped nearly $3 to below $100 a barrel – at times hitting 16-month lows. BP shares ended up 7.1p at 402p.

Chris Beauchamp at IG Index said: “May was a bleak month for global markets, and June hasn’t got off to a much better start.”

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The FTSE 100 Index fell 60.67 points to 5,260.19 as the raft of gloomy surveys highlighted fears that the eurozone crisis is infecting economies worldwide.

With talk turning to the possibility of more money printing in response to the stalling world economy, investors looked to gold for protection and propelled miner Randgold Resources to the top of the risers’ board. Its shares were up 360p, or nearly 7 per cent, at 5,555p.

Hedge fund Man Group was also a strong riser, ahead 2.6p at 75.5p, as traders bought back into financial stocks cheapened in recent weeks. Man has lost so much of its value amid concerns over the performance of its flagship fund that it now looks likely to fall out of the FTSE 100 in the next shake-up.

It will make way for defence services firm Babcock, which has seen its market value grow 15 per cent since the last FTSE review on hopes it will benefit from cuts to defence budgets because of its outsourcing role. But yesterday, Babcock again moved in the opposite direction to Man, down 9.5p at 840.5p.

The lower oil price caused a sell-off among North Sea energy firms, with Cairn and Bowleven both down more than 3 per cent, at 275.9p and 59.25p respectively. Xcite Energy shed 5 per cent at 88.75p.

NEW YORK: The Dow turned negative for the year on Friday after a weak US jobs report accelerated a downturn in stocks, fuelled by fears that Europe’s spiraling debt crisis was dragging down the world economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 274.88 points, or 2.22 per cent, ending at 12,118.57. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 32.29 points, or 2.46 per cent, to 1,278.04. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 79.86 points, or 2.82 per cent, to 2,747.48.