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FTSE 100 dragged lower by resource stocks

The FTSE 100 ended in the red, weighed down by big payers Astra, Glaxo and Shell going ex-dividend.
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Tullow was especially hard hit

Blue-chips and mid-caps went their separate ways Thursday, with the top-share index hit by a number of big dividend payers trading ex-dividend.

Astra, Shell and Glaxo all traded ex-dividend, contributing to 58 point fall to 5,972 on the FTSE 100. By contrast, the FTSE 250 rose 20 points to 16,176, despite Tullow Oil (LON:TLW) plunging more than 11% after it said it revealed it had experienced a minor problem on its floating production storage and off-take vessel (FPSO), although no production was lost.

British Gas-owner Centrica (LON:CNA) ended the day 13.3p higher at 207.4p after pleasing full-year results. The numbers were more or less in line with expectations, and the company said it remains confident in its ability to deliver operating cash flow growth of at least 3%-5% from the 2015 levels.

Celtic Sea operators Lansdowne Oil & Gas (LON:LOGP) and Providence Resources (LON:PVR) were wanted, after Providence told investors it is considering a proposal from an alliance of contractors which could see a new Barryroe well drilled for just £16mln.

Lansdowne and Providence both rose by a third.

Shares in fluorspar firm Tertiary Minerals skyrocketed on Thursday afternoon on Swedish permit news.

The firm revealed it had received the long-awaited exploitation permit for its Storuman project from the country's mining inspectorate. Shares rose over 44% at one point to stand at 1.55p before ebbing to 1.375p.

Premier African Minerals (LON:PREM) rose by 26% to 0.725p after Darwin Capital served notice to convert £232,500 of loan notes into Premier shares.

Shareholder normally respond well to directors buying shares and such was the case with Canadian Overseas Petroleum (LON:COPL), which rose 18.8% to 2.375p as Arthur Milholland, president and chief executive, bought 1.1mln shares at four Canadian cents a pop.


Mid-session

London shares stayed in the red on Thursday but takeover gossip surrounding Morrisons provided interest.

The FTSE 100 Index fell 34 points to 5,996 after Chinese inflation hit its highest point since last September, but still fell short of the 1.9% expected by economists, coming in at 1.8%.

Oil prices recovered earlier losses, with the price of a barrel of Brent crude 2.7% up at US$35.46 and US light crude climbing 3.1% to US$31.65.

That failed to stop commodity stocks declining, with Anglo American (LON:AAL) down 17.7p to 450.35p, Glencore (LON:GLEN) dropping 0.15p to 119.85p, Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) 52.5p adrift at 1,898.5p; however, BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) bucked the trend with a 5.1p gain to 748.1p.

BP (LON:BP.) leaked 2.3p to 347.55p, while Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSB) backtracked 26p to 1610p, trading ex-dividend.

Investors went shopping for shares in supermarket group Morrisons (LON:MRW) on the back of rumours that rival Tesco (LON:TSCO) and a private equity consortium, led by Permira, were both stalking the Bradford-based group, whose shares put on 5p to 186.5p.

Tesco shares were 1.6p brighter at 188.45p following the speculation that Morrisons, which has been battling discounters Aldi and Lidl, could attract an offer in the region of £6.4bn, or 275p a share.

BAE Systems (LON:BA.) fired up 10.7p to 510p after posting lower underlying earnings, but increasing its dividend and forecasting higher earnings per share in 2016.

British Gas owner Centrica (LON:CNA) inflated 12.2p to 206.3p as investors welcomed results that, while showing lower profits, were slightly ahead of expectations.

Elsewhere, Surface Transforms (LON:SCE) ticked up 0.5p to 18.5p on news that the maker of carbon fibre-reinforced ceramic composite materials had signed a deal for a lease on a new factory on Merseyside.

Natural sweetener maker PureCircle headed 9p, or 2.8%, lower to 315p as it said the finance chief of Unilever's (LON:ULVR) Latin American, South and Eastern European food business, Rakesh Sinha, would replace incumbent William Mitchell later this year.

Landore Resources (LON:LND) strengthened 0.08p, or 12%, to 0.7p after work carried out late last year at the metal miner's flagship Junior Lake property in Ontario showed one of the deposits there could be extended.

Amerisur Resources (LON:AMER) lifted 10.3% to 26.75p as it got final approvals for a pipeline to link the Platanillo field in Colombia to the Victor Hugo Ruales field in Ecuador.

News of a round of cost cuts following the scrapping of plans to acquire the South Taranaki energy project boosted shares in Mosman Oil and Gas (LON:MSMN) by 0.12p, or 17.9%, to 0.82p.


Open

Worse-than-expected Chinese inflation data and lower oil prices left the London market on the back foot on Thursday.

Figures out of Beijing in the early hours of the day hit their highest point since last September, but still fell short of the 1.9% expected by economists, coming in at 1.8%.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude was also 0.14% off at US$34.45, setting back mining and oil stocks.

Anglo American (LON:AAL) fell 23.65p to 444.4p, Glencore (LON:GLEN) dropped 4.6p to 115.4p, Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) was 64p off at 1,887p and BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) subsided 11.8p to 731.2p.

BP (LON:BP.) leaked 2.3p to 347.55p and Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSB) backtracked 40p to 1596p. The FTSE 100 Index fell 51.85 points to 5,978.

BAE Systems (LON:BA.) fired up 6.2p to 505.5p after posting lower underlying earnings, but increasing its dividend and forecasting higher earnings per share in 2016.

British Gas owner Centrica (LON:CNA) inflated 5.6p to 199.7p as investors welcomed results that, while showing lower profits, were slightly ahead of expectations.

Elsewhere, Surface Transforms (LON:SCE) ticked up 0.5p to 18.5p on news that the maker of carbon fibre-reinforced ceramic composite materials had signed a deal for a lease on a new factory on Merseyside.

Natural sweetener maker PureCircle headed 3p, or 0.9%, lower to 321p as it said the finance chief of Unilever's (LON:ULVR) Latin American, South and Eastern European food business, Rakesh Sinha, would replace incumbent William Mitchell later this year.

Landore Resources (LON:LND) strengthened 0.08p, or 12%, to 0.7p after work carried out late last year at the metal miner's flagship Junior Lake property in Ontario showed one of the deposits there could be extended.

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