Sector movers: Sinking tide drags down all ships
Every single sector was in the red on Thursday as the FTSE 100 and 250 indices finished around two-year lows amid a general market sell-off sparked by renewed worries about US-China trade relations.
Oil producers and services providers to the industry were among the biggest fallers, sending investors into safer havens as oil prices jagged lower after a summit of the Opec oil producer's cartel ended the day without any firm decision.
Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate were down more than 4% during the afternoon, easing off slightly to $59.50 and $51.12 a barrel respectively after Saudi Arabia's energy minister dashed hopes of any steep production cuts at the OPEC meeting in Vienna.
Khalid Al-Falih told reporters that no agreement had been reached yet on a production cut and suggested that reducing output by one million barrels a day would be sufficient.
"OPEC seems to be joining in the ‘no deal’ fun, with only an agreement ‘in principle’ to cut output," said market analyst Chris Beachamp at IG. "While oil is off the lows of the day, it is not likely to hold these lows for long if oil ministers don’t agree a sizeable cut. We wait until tomorrow for further news."
Life insurers were hit as bond yields fell, which curtails the companies income streams. Life companies use returns from bond yields to pay the liabilities that come due. Aviva and Legal & General were both down more than 4%, Asia focused Prudential was down more than 6%.
The FTSE 350 Gas Water & Multiutilities index was pretty much flat, followed by tobacco - both seen as defensive sectors where investors flock during risk-off moments.
"All these are considered to be defensive stocks, offering goods and services people would buy regardless of economic conditions," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
Top performing sectors so far today
Gas; Water & Multiutilities -0.6%
Real Estate Investment & Services -1.50
Mobile Telecommunications -1.67
Real Estate Investment Trusts -1.70
Bottom performing sectors so far today
Technology Hardware & Equipment -7.64%
Forestry & Paper -5.61%
Life Insurance -5.57%
Oil & Gas Producers -4.53%
Oil Equipment, Services & Distribution -4.40%