THURSDAY MARKET CLOSE: Wild ride for oil stocks as crude rises

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The London market tracked oil prices in a rollercoaster session that ended more or less where it started.

The FTSE 100 Index closed 5.91 points higher at 6,865.93, although it had been down by more than 40 points in early trading.

With crude only pulling out of Wednesday’s slide after lunch, the most exposed stocks continued to be the preserve of the brave. Tullow Oil saw a share price swing of almost 10 per cent within the space of eight hours. It closed at the top of the blue chip risers’ board, up more than 5 per cent at 418.1p.

Investors in sector supplier Weir Group also had tickets for the ride, and were rewarded as it ended up 42p higher at 1,852p.

Meanwhile the Footsie remains well placed for an assault on its all time highs and the elusive 7,000 mark.

Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “Macroeconomic factors can be expected to continue to direct markets in the near term, but the impact of that jump in oil prices is certainly worth noting.

“Finishing the week 70 points higher [than Thursday’s close] certainly isn’t beyond the realm of probability.”

Meanwhile BT’s £12.5 billion swoop for EE was the highlight in a busy day of corporate news. Confirmation of the deal meant shares in the former state monopoly jumped more than 4 per cent, up 19p to 442p after BT disclosed new details on cost and spending synergies from the tie-up.

Elsewhere in the telecoms sector, Vodafone fell 5.6p to 230.9p after it reported a 2.7 per cent decline in service revenues in Europe for the final three months of the year.

AstraZeneca was the worst top flight performer, down 3 per cent after the drugs giant revealed an operating loss for the final quarter of last year. Shares were 169p lower at 4,529p.