LONDON -- As normality began to return to the U.K. following the end of the fuel tax protests, the markets returned to their recent downward trend.
Thursday's rally is all-but-forgotten as the
tanked 138 points, or 2.1%, to 6417 and the
100 closed down 110.6 points, or 2.8%, to 3883. The double whammy of the rollover of futures and options contracts and fears about more rises in oil prices were the principal reasons for a pathetic close to a disappointing week's trading.
In the country as a whole there was relief that the fuel situation was returning, albeit slowly, to normal. Although it had been touch and go for a time on Thursday as, in a monumental piece of bad timing,
announced it planned to raise the price of unleaded gas by 2 pence per liter, an embarrassing u-turn later by the company and the protestors finally called off the demonstrations completely. However, they have vowed to return in 60 days time if the government has not addressed the problem of the high fuel taxes.
For every pound spent on gas, 76.8% goes into the government's pocket. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown will have an opportunity to address this when he presents his mini-budget in November, yet the government is no doubt hoping that by then the prices of crude will have fallen to make this unnecessary.
In the short term, it will be some time before the gas stations are full. The
Department of Trade and Industry
said that by the end of today only 26% of the gas stations would be full and it will take some two weeks before they are at normal levels. The Institute of Directors says this week's fuel meltdown will have cost UK industry
1 billion, especially hitting hotel, manufacturing and transport companies.
department stores, for one, estimates the petrol crisis has cost it
2 million in lost sales over the past week and others are worried about the entire sector. David McBain of
, says: "No-one is quite clear on how long it will take before the petrol flows properly. The full impact won't be seen for some time to come."
It is perhaps fitting that the only true winners on the markets today were the oil companies, which rose on the back of higher oil prices. Crude oil climbed to over $35 a barrel in U.S. trade.
closed up 6p, or 1.0%, to 640 ($9.02), while
moved up 10p, or 1.7%, to 595.5.
Those shares aside, it was a bleak picture for the rest of the market.
IT software provider
was among the major decliners, plunging62.5p, or 10.8% to 517p as house broker
warned that some analysts' estimates on earnings for the software company were more than a little optimistic.
Telecom also took a beating.
-- one of the star performers Thursday -- fell 98p, or 4.4%, to
fell 28p, or 3.4%, to 795.
lost 4p, or 1.7%, to 270.
Europe's other stock markets closed out the week on a mixed note. The
in Paris closed off 23.3, or 0.4%, at 6,614.7 and late in the German trading day the
in Frankfurt was up 6.13, or 0.1%, at 7,054.8. The Neuer Markt's tech-heavy
index was 41.7 lower, or 0.7%, at 5,970.7.
Big telecoms had mixed results, as
climbed 1.59 euros, or 3.7%, to 44.59 ($38.58) and
closed down 2.90 euros, or 2.3%, at 126.10.
dropped 1.19 euros, or 4.1%, to 28.01, after
cut its price target on the stock.
rose 1.40 euros, or 1.6%, to 91.30 and
fell 6.00 krona, or 3.2%, to 180.50 ($18.59).
In Frankfurt, Internet service provider
tanked after the company was rated "sell" by
. The ISP's shares on the Neuer Markt were down 2.15 euros, or 7.0%, at 28.65.
rose 2.10 euros, or 4.5%, to 49.10, after the carmaker announced it would buyback up to 10% of its shares.