Oil stocks dragged London shares
deep into the red on Tuesday after crude prices hit a five-and-a-half year low.
The FTSE 100 Index closed 86.51 points adrift at 6,547 as the price of a barrel of Brent crude dropped below $57, although it later recovered slightly.
The price of a barrel of US light crude stood about 0.4% lower at $53.40 just after the close in London.
Oil service company Weir Group led the sector lower with a 61p fall to 1,866p, while British Gas owner Centrica deflated 7.7p to 278.5p and BG Group was off 21.1p at 868.6p.
But the prospect of lower fuel prices boosted travel stocks, with British Airways and Iberia owner IAG ascending 10p to 481.7p and Easyjet gaining 22p to 1664p.
There appeared to be little prospect of a let-up in the oil price
US government data due out Wednesday was expected to show that crude stockpiles stayed at 387.2m barrels last week, with inventories remaining at their highest since June.
The falling oil price ended an eight-day winning streak for the Footsie, which hit a three-week high in the previous session.
Uncertainty surrounding Greek politics also contributed to market woe after Athens failed to elect a president on Monday, triggering a snap general election on 25 January.
Concerns about the increasing support for anti-austerity party Syriza caused bond yields to soar on Monday in Greece - 10-year bond yields exceeded 9.5% for the first time since September 2013 - while US Treasuries gained due to haven demand.
In more positive news, a bond auction in Italy on Tuesday morning saw 10-year bond yields drop below 2% for the first time in history, signalling investor optimism that the Greek crisis will be contained.
Back on the equity markets, Next lifted 210p to 6,725p after it forecast annual profits slightly ahead of guidance and announced a new 50p special dividend, but said it remained cautious about 2015.
Songbird Estates, the majority owner of Canary Wharf financial district in London's Docklands, dropped 5.5p to 315p as it urged investors to sit tight after a consortium trying to buy it published details of its £2.6bn bid.
techMARK 2,950.97 -0.60%
FTSE 100 6,547.00 -1.30%
FTSE 250 15,990.31 -0.38%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Next (NXT) 6,725.00p +3.22%
Fresnillo (FRES) 768.50p +2.54%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,336.00p +2.17%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 481.70p +2.12%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,664.00p +1.34%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 2,993.50p +0.93%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,842.00p +0.11%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Royal Mail (RMG) 426.60p -3.59%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,866.00p -3.17%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,313.00p -2.89%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,493.00p -2.74%
Centrica (CNA) 278.50p -2.69%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 910.00p -2.52%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,991.00p -2.45%
BG Group (BG.) 868.60p -2.37%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,160.00p -2.20%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 859.50p -2.16%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 377.80p +6.15%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 258.50p +3.90%
Polymetal International (POLY) 570.50p +3.26%
Playtech (PTEC) 670.50p +2.68%
Northgate (NTG) 604.00p +2.63%
Supergroup (SGP) 898.00p +2.57%
Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) 372.30p +2.51%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 197.80p +2.43%
Zoopla Property Group (WI) (ZPLA) 194.00p +2.11%
Lonmin (LMI) 176.70p +2.02%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
IP Group (IPO) 205.40p -5.52%
Infinis Energy (INFI) 209.00p -5.00%
Amec Foster Wheeler (AMFW) 853.50p -3.56%
Rotork (ROR) 2,317.00p -3.50%
Just Eat (JE.) 309.80p -3.19%
RPS Group (RPS) 209.30p -3.15%
Genus (GNS) 1,270.00p -2.91%
Hunting (HTG) 523.00p -2.79%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 178.60p -2.78%
Serco Group (SRP) 155.70p -2.57%
FTSE TechMARK - Risers
Sarossa (SARS) 1.81p +9.04%
Dialight (DIA) 793.50p +2.92%
Consort Medical (CSRT) 858.00p +1.54%
SDL (SDL) 412.00p +1.17%
Sepura (SEPU) 146.50p +1.03%
Optos (OPTS) 252.50p +1.00%
Anite (AIE) 80.00p +0.95%
BATM Advanced Communications Ltd. (BVC) 15.75p +0.80%
NCC Group (NCC) 200.50p +0.75%
Skyepharma (SKP) 334.50p +0.75%
FTSE TechMARK - Fallers
Kofax Limited (DI) (KFX) 455.75p -3.24%
RM (RM.) 149.50p -1.64%
Torotrak (TRK) 15.38p -1.60%
E2V Technologies (E2V) 169.25p -1.60%
XP Power Ltd. (DI) (XPP) 1,403.00p -0.85%
CML Microsystems (CML) 422.50p -0.59%
Promethean World (PRW) 22.50p -0.55%
KCOM Group (KCOM) 88.25p -0.28%
Vectura Group (VEC) 127.00p -0.20%