British blue-chip stocks finished lower Tuesday, pulled down in part by a fall in shares of BP PLC after the energy heavyweight said it will take a $1.7 billion charge related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. A selloff for miners also weighed on the main equity benchmark. The FTSE 100 index fell 0.2% to close at 7,755.93, building on Monday’s 0.1% decline. The London benchmark still stands near it all-time closing high of 7,778.64, hit Friday. The pound traded at $1.3775, slipping from $1.3782 ahead of the release of inflation data. Sterling was at $1.3794 late Monday in New York, after breaking above $1.38 earlier in that session. Before finishing lower, the FTSE 100 wobbled in early trading, with the decline for BP shares and the drop in pound pulling in different directions. The energy giant said it expects to book a $1.7 billion charge in its 2017 fourth-quarter results for claims related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The company has already said it is likely to take a $1.5 billion accounting charge related to U.S. tax reform. BP shares have a weighting of 5.1% on the FTSE 100, the fourth-highest of any individual company, according to FactSet data.
BP PLC lost 2.7% after the announcement of the Deepwater Horizon charge. Rio Tinto said it continues to expect shipments of iron ore from its Western Australia mines will likely rise this year, after record exports in the last quarter allowed it to hit a target for 2017. But the miner’s shares closed down by 3%, as a downgrade may have hurt. HSBC analysts cut their ratings on Rio and Anglo American PLC to hold from buy, saying a recent rally has eroded the stocks’ potential for further growth. Anglo lost 1.6%, and Antofagasta fell 2.8%. On the upside, shares in Associated British Foods ABF, +2.23% added 2.2% following a ratings upgrade to overweight from equal weight at Barclays. Advancers also included supermarket chain Tesco PLC, higher by 1.9%. U.K. inflation came in at 3% in December, the Office for National Statistics reported, meeting a consensus estimate from FactSet. The rate compares with a reading of 3.1% in November. Average house prices in the U.K. rose 5.1% in November, the ONS said.
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