WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Iraq crisis pushes oil stocks higher

The London market made modest gains as oil firms climbed and traders nervously awaited the latest decision from the US Federal Reserve.

Traders are keeping one eye on the Iraq situation. Picture: AP

Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, said: “The gains made on the FTSE have been founded on energy firms, which at the moment are benefiting from higher oil prices.

“Despite this, traders are keeping one eye on the Iraq situation at all times, with the uncomfortable knowledge that higher oil prices will not be beneficial for the global economy.”

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BP and Shell were both on the risers’ board, up around 1.6 per cent each. BP added 8.3p at 514.4p, while Shell’s “B” shares climbed 44p to 2,533p.

The FTSE 100 index was 11.79 points higher at 6,778.56, as traders braced themselves for a hawkish message from the Fed in light of the strengthening US economy. Bank of England minutes helped the pound moveabove $1.70 but it dropped back again.

Pharma firm Shire topped the risers’ board, up almost 3.5 per cent at 3,785p as rumours of takeover activity in the sector continued to swirl. Allergen, itself a possible bid target, was being touted as a potential buyer.

Outside the top flight, Premier Foods was nearly 10 per cent lower, off 5.5p to 52p, after it said “subdued” grocery markets meant sales of its top brands were shrinking.

Property website Zoopla made a decent start to trading on its stock market debut after its shares were priced towards the lower end of expectations.

The group priced shares in the float at 220p, compared with previous guidance for a range of between 200p and 250p.

The stock climbed to as high as 236p in conditional dealings, giving the firm a market capitalisation of £985 million, before settling at 230p.