Belfast Telegraph

Dip for market as oil producers fail to agree deal

The London market edged lower as crude prices fell after a key meeting of oil producers ended in stalemate.

The Qatar summit at the weekend saw Saudi Arabia willing to cut production, but Iran continues to increase output following the recent lifting of Western sanctions against it.

The FTSE 100 Index slipped 15.8 points to 6328.1, as Brent Crude fell 4.8% to just under 42 US dollars a barrel after the Doha meeting broke up without agreement.

Royal Dutch Shell and BP fell 28p to 1789p and 4.1p to 351.9p respectively, recovering from heavier losses earlier in the session.

Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell said: "Realistically Iran remains the only country that matters in this oil saga and, until the newly un-sanctioned country agrees to halt its march to greater and greater daily levels of production, there isn't much chance of a Brent Crude price rescuing deal being implemented."

In Europe, Germany's Dax was just ahead, while France's Cac 40 was marginally lower.

The pound was slightly down against the euro at 1.25, after Chancellor George Osborne warned that Britain's economy would shrink by 6% by 2030 if the country replicated Canada's trading agreement with the EU.

Sterling was little changed against the US dollar at 1.42.

Shares in British Gas owner Centrica fell by more than 2% as the firm lost 224,000 customers in the first three months of the year as competition in the energy market continues to bite. Its overall residential accounts fell 1.5% to 14.4 million customers.

The group put the loss down to a significant number of customers coming off long-term fixed-price contracts, and consumers switching suppliers as smaller rivals put Big Six players under price pressure.

Shares fell 4.4p to 233.9p.

Durex owner Reckitt Benckiser shrugged off tough trading to cheer rising sales thanks to a boost from new products including an electronic nail file.

The Slough-based firm saw like-for-like sales come in ahead of expectations, up 5% in the first quarter, following a "good" performance from healthcare products Gaviscon and Strepsils.

The group said Europe and North America like-for-like sales stepped up 3%, driven in part by the launch of new products from footwear brands Amope and Scholl Innovations.

Shares in Reckitt lifted over 1%, or 88p to 6823p.

Elsewhere, the chief executive of Voda maker Stock Spirits has stepped down, just weeks after the firm's biggest shareholder called for him to be ousted.

The FTSE Small Cap firm said that Chris Heath will take early retirement and Miroslaw "Mirek" Stachowicz, an independent non-executive director, will serve as interim chief executive.

Earlier this month, Western Gate Private Investments, Stock Spirit's largest individual shareholder, called for Mr Heath to be ousted. It urged "fresh perspectives" in order to address a decline in sales in the firm's key Polish market.

Shares lifted 1.5p to 154.8p.