Daily Mail

Fall in Brent crude marks a black day for oil majors

- By John Abiona

OIL prices tumbled to a fourmonth low as investors fretted that a slowdown in the global economy was hitting demand.

On a turbulent day on commodity markets, Brent crude fell more than 5pc to below $77 a barrel, the lowest level since early July.

As recently as September, oil was close to $97 a barrel, and last month the World Bank warned it could top $150 if the conflict in Gaza triggered a full-scale war in the Middle East.

The slump in prices will be welcomed by businesses and motorists who could benefit from cheaper petrol and diesel.

But it did little for oil stocks in London, with BP falling 2.84pc or 13.7p to 468.4 and Shell down 3.04pc or 80p to 2,555.5p, while mid- cap rival Harbour Energy sank 7.37pc or 17.8p to 223.9p.

The slide in heavyweigh­t oil stocks helped to drag the wider London market into the red after three days of gains.

Signs of optimism re- emerged this week after inflation eased by more than expected in the UK and US, sparking speculatio­n about when interest rates may be cut. But markets went back into reverse yesterday as the FTSE 100 fell 1.01pc or 75.94 points to 7,410.97 and the FTSE 250 was down 1.74pc or 325 points to 18,351.48.

Trading was also subdued in Europe, while on Wall Street the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.13pc.

Danni Hewson, AJ Bell’s head of financial analysis, said: ‘There was only ever going to be a finite amount of time that the inflation relief rally would run – and today time ran out.

‘Investors haven’t changed their minds about when they expect interest rates to start coming down, but they also can’t ignore the fact that there’s a long stretch of time between now and then, with the here and now still causing a bit of trouble.’

There was some optimism from Great Portland Estates, which owns offices and shops in the West End and City of London. It said it was now buying more properties in the capital than it was selling for the first time in a decade.

With workers returning to central London, it also upgraded its outlook for rental growth.

But with higher interest rates driving down the value of its property portfolio – which declined by 10.3pc to £2.3bn in the six months to September 30 – shares dropped 5.35pc or 23.8p to 421.4p.

CAB Payments gained 3.08pc or 1.9p to 63.5p following reports that a senior executive called a former top-20 investor to reassure them that the company would meet its revised forecasts.

Oliver Brown, a fund manager at RC Brown, said the London-listed firm was ‘absolutely adamant that they are not going to have another profit warning [in 2023]’.

The group, which specialise­s in money transfers to emerging markets, plunged 72pc in a single day last month after warning its revenues for this year should be far worse than expected.

Kier Group suffered its third shareholde­r revolt over fatcat pay in as many years as 39pc of investors at its AGM voted against the remunerati­on policy.

Shares in the constructi­on group slid 0.57pc or 0.6p to 105.4p.

Nearly a fifth of Wetherspoo­n shareholde­rs at its AGM voted against the re-election of the pub chain’s boss Tim Martin. Shares fell 5.88pc or 43.5p to 696.5p.

There was better news for Aviva after the insurer’s written premiums rose 13pc to £8bn in the three months to September 30.

It added that weather-related claims had increased but remain within expectatio­ns following wildfires and flooding in Canada alongside storms Babet and Ciaran in the UK. Shares fell 0.24pc or 1p to 413p.

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