BP’s share price recovery was brought to a halt on Thursday after the US government announced it will sue the company over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The energy giant, which faces penalties as high as 21 billion US dollars (£13.4 billion) if found fully liable for damages in the lawsuit, fell almost 3% or 12.95p to 463.6p as the stock reversed strong gains earlier this week.
BP’s slide failed to prevent the FTSE 100 Index from edging into positive territory, up 11.3 points to 5893.5 during thin pre-Christmas trading.
Stocks in the utility sector were among those making progress, with British Gas owner Centrica up 4.5p to 334.8p and Severn Trent 16p higher to 1446p.
In a quiet session for corporate news, Sports Direct International lifted almost 3% in the FTSE 250 Index after it posted a sharp rise in half-year profits to just over £100 million and said it had cut debt by 25%.
The performance, which was driven by a 10% rise in revenues from its retail estate, was slightly better than City expectations and triggered a share price improvement of 3.9p to 149.9p. Rival firm JD Sports Fashion failed to benefit as its shares slipped 1p to 910p.