Oil firms pull FTSE 100 lower

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FTSE 100 Index

Last Updated at 19 Feb 2018, 14:38 GMT *Chart shows local time FTSE 100 intraday chart
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(Close): Shares in Royal Dutch Shell weighed on London's main index after the oil giant's profit figures came in below City expectations.

Shares in Shell fell 4.89%, dragging the FTSE 100 down 15.3 points, or 0.22%, to 6,810.6. Rival oil giant BP fell 1.87%.

Easyjet topped the FTSE 100 gainers, rising 4.6% after Barclays upgraded the airline's shares to "overweight".

The main stock markets in Germany and Paris finished 0.25% and 0.44% ahead.

Oil prices stabilised following news that US stockpiles have hit record levels. Brent crude was trading at $48.67 a barrel, while US crude was at $44.26.

On Wednesday, the US Energy Information Administration said oil stocks increased by nearly 9 million barrels last week to almost 407 million, the highest level since records began in 1982.

Diageo - the drinks giant that owns the Guinness and Smirnoff brands - saw its shares rise more than 3%, despite it reporting an 18% drop in half-year profits to £1.3bn, with net sales down slightly to $5.9bn.

Chief executive Ivan Menezes said: "We have already taken action to improve the performance of those brands and markets that have not performed as well as we would expect.

"This contributed to our stronger second quarter performance and I expect to maintain this momentum through the year."

Outside the top flight, pubs and restaurants group Mitchells & Butlers made little headway despite reporting 4.8% like-for-like sales growth over Christmas. The shares rose 0.36%.

On the currency markets, the pound slipped 0.69% against the dollar to $1.5034, and fell 0.7% against the euro to €1.3318.