UK FTSE falls, lags continental peers amid commodity selloff

UK FTSE falls, lags continental peers amid commodity selloff
A trader reacts in front of the screens at the Frankfurt stock exchange January 26, 2015. European stock index futures fell early on Monday as Greece's Syriza party promised to roll back austerity measures after sweeping to victory in a snap election

LONDON - Britain's top share index edged off a four-month high on Monday, lagging most of its continental peers as sharp falls in copper and oil prices hit heavyweight mining and energy stocks.

Coke bottler Coca-Cola HBC, for which Greece is a significant market in terms of profit, also fell in hefty volume as the success of anti-bailout party Syriza in the Greek parliamentary election reignited fears of renewed financial upheaval in the country.

Shares in companies which deal in basic resources and oil were the biggest drag on the FTSE 100 after crude and copper prices resumed their slide towards multi-year lows, pummelled by concerns about over-supply at a time of sluggish demand.

Oil explorer Tullow Oil and miners Anglo American

and BHP Billiton were the top fallers on the FTSE, all down around 3 per cent.

Shares in energy and basic materials companies knocked a combined 29 points off the FTSE, which was down 25.47 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 6,807.36 points at 1112 GMT.

The index recorded its biggest weekly rise in three years last week, mirroring broad gains across Europe as the European Central Bank unveiled a bond-buying programme to stimulate the euro zone economy.

While UK blue chips, which generate about a quarter of their revenues from continental Europe, will also benefit from the ECB's stimulus, the FTSE, with its heavy exposure to commodities, is seen as a possible underperformer if oil and copper prices continue to slide.

The UK index is up 4 per cent so far this year, or roughly half as much as the euro zone Euro STOXX 50 index. "The mining and the oil (sectors) are really going to curse the FTSE in 2015," said Chris Beauchamp, a strategist at IG. "If you're looking for growth, you're going to find it in small-caps Europe and in the US and not in this commodity-sub-index which is the FTSE 100."

Lower fuel prices boosted airlines, however, with International Consolidated Airlines Group up 3.2 per cent at the top of the FTSE. The British Airways owner confirmed it had submitted an improved proposal to make an offer for Aer Lingus.

Pharma group Shire also gained, up 2.1 per cent, following news that US regulators had approved NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc's NPSP.O drug Natpara, validating Shire's decision to buy NPS for $5.2 billion.

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