Libya crisis hits European trading

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The FTSE 100 index dropped 38.9 points to 5957.8

The crisis in Libya has continued to impact trading on European markets amid fears the country’s power struggle could disrupt crude oil supplies.

Oil prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange neared 96 US dollars a barrel – the highest since October 2008 – as the Libyan government cracked down on protesters and foreign energy companies suspended oil production.

Libya holds the most oil reserves in Africa and is the world’s 15th-largest crude exporter at 1.2 million barrels per day.

The situation meant another volatile session for the FTSE 100 Index, which lost some of Tuesday’s late rally to stand 38.9 points lower at 5957.8.

Commodity-based stocks were impacted by the uncertainty as Kazakhmys dropped 26p to 1422p, Lonmin fell 30.5p to 1796.5p and Antofagasta declined 28p to 1355p.

Rexam provided the biggest fall in the FTSE 100 Index despite detailing a 45% rise in annual underlying profits to £412 million for 2010.

The figures were ahead of market expectations but with Rexam’s shares enjoying a strong run in recent weeks the stock fell back 4% or 13.6p to 356.4p.

In the FTSE 250 Index, shares in builders’ merchant and Wickes owner Travis Perkins rose 2% – or 15.5p to 1054.5p – after it revealed a 20% rise in underlying profits and said the new financial year had started well.

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