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FTSE 100 ends tough week on a flat note

Friday was a bit of a wash-out, with the Footsie ending little changed after a rough week
Bulls & bears
It was an anaemic battle today between the bears and the bulls (the bears won on a split decision)
  • FTSE 100 takes small step

  • Bank quarterlies set for next week

  • Strategic Minerals fairy-tale continues

The top-share index finished the day little changed but the week significantly lower.

The FTSE 100 closed at 7,115, down four points on the day but more than 200 points on the week.

Strategic Minerals Plc (LON:SML) ended the day as the best performer, just squeezing out Amur Minerals and MySQUAR Limited.

READ Strategic Minerals very bullish as sales from its iron tailings project in New Mexico hit new record

WATCH New Cobre client could prove 'spectacular' for Strategic Minerals, says John Peters

Shares in Strategic rose 26% to 2.3p and are up 1,535% over the last year.

3.45pm...US shares start lower....

Expectations that US stocks would open on the front foot proved unfounded, while in London, FTSE 100 is a tad higher, at 7,118

The S&P was down a couple of points at 2,354 after half an hour of trading, while the Dow Jones was down 8 points at 20,571, with General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) leading the index lower after its first quarter results.

GE shares were off 0.9% at US$30 after an initially favourable reaction to its first quarter results.

Meanwhile, Sneakers maker Skechers USA Inc (NYSE:SKX) also found the market hard to please, as it shares retreated 1.5%, despite seeing its quarterly revenue pass the US$1bn mark for the first time in its history, thanks in part to strong growth in international markets.

In London, small cap MySQUAR Limited (LON:MYSQ) was a notable London riser in afternoon deals, with shares adding over 18% to 1.60p.

It came after one of the investors in its recent £2mln placing buy another chunk of shares, but this time through the open market.

Imperium Ltd purchased a further 30mln shares or 7.6% of the Myanmar-focused social media group.

It was also an investor in the second tranche of MySQUAR’s recent £2mln funding that replaced a convertible loan with financier Sandabel. READ more here..

3.15pm...FTSE 100 teetering on the brink..

FTSE100 was on the brink of negativity and positivity in afternoon deals as more emerged on the Paris attack last night.

The bluechip benchmark is down just 0,904% at 7,117.

IS has claimed the attacked as their own. He was shot by police after he pulled his car alongside a bus on the Champs-Elysees and opened fire, killing one officer. Two others were injured.

It’s a topsy turvy day on FTSE 100 and it has now turned positive, as traders await bank results next week, digests disappointing retail sales stats and wonder about rate rises.

The index stands at 7,129 at the time of writing - up 10.57 points.

It comes as Michael Saunders, Bank of England policy marker reportedly said he expects growth and inflation this year to be higher than it forecast two months ago, and that modest rate rises may be on the cards.

Earlier, retail sales figures for March showed the fastest quarterly rate decline since 2010, sparking fears  of a consumer spending slowdown.

Some analysts believe that would mean rates would be unlikely to raise for at least this year and next.

 

On Footsie, among the gainers was insurer Aviva (LON:AV) which added 1.23% to stand at £512.74.

The firm revealed it had bought VietinBank's entire 50% stake in its life insurance joint venture VietinBank Aviva Life Insurance Ltd

It has also signed a new distribution agreement with VietinBank to sell life and health insurance products through its network of more than 1,100 branches.

Also higher was Marks &Spencer plc (LON:MKS), which added 1.67% to 359.60p after Barclays started covering the shares.

1.50pm... Wall Street preview

Global tensions edged up again following Thursday's terrorist attack in Paris, but US markets were nevertheless expected to open higher.

Spread betting quotes indicated the benchmark S&P 500 index will open a couple of points higher at 2,357 while the more narrowly-based Dow Jones was seen starting just above the 20,600 level, after closing last night at 20,578.

Early on the spotlight is likely to be on credit card outfit Visa Inc (NYSE:V) and toys maker Mattel Inc (NASDAQ:MAT), both of which have made trading updates.

The former beat expectations and was on a charge in pre-market trading, rising 2.4% but Mattel shareholders were throwing their toys out of the pram at underwhelming figures; Mattel's shares retreated 6.6% in screen-based trading ahead of the bell.

Industrial holding company General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) cheered the market with better-than-expected first quarter numbers.

1.15pm...PowerHouse Energy Group shares on the up ..

PowerHouse Energy Group PLC (LON:PHE) shares bolted up almost 6% in afternoon deals as it announced a successful production of gas.

It has completed the first phase of the re-commissioning of the waste to energy company’s G3-UHt unit, it told investors

Shares added 5.88%  to 0.90p.

The G3-UHt unit was shipped over to the UK from Australia earlier this year and  operated at a temperature of over 1000 degrees Celcius, demonstrating its capacity to “gasify any historically difficult waste material and generate synthesis gas".

 

12noon...FTSE100 still in red

FTSE 100  was still in negative territory  at noon, down slightly, as UK bank quarterly results season comes into view next week and traders continue to mull the forthcoming UK election and Brexit negotiations.

The Footsie is down almost seven points at the time of writing, to stand at 7,111, having been

Bank shares are up on the day. They have enjoyed what some commentators have said is a very strong first three months..

However, big lenders do face ongoing margin pressure due to a competitive mortgage lending market following the Bank of England’s decision to cut its base interest rate to 0.25%.

Barclays (LON:BARC) is up 0.22% at the time of writing to stand at 208.2p, RBS (LON:RB.) is up 0.21% to 240p and Lloyds (LON:LLOY) is up 0.44% to 64.34p.

Lloyds will be the first to post its quarterly results on April27, Barclays is on April 28 along with RBS.

 

Barclays went against the herd with its analysis of Marks & Spencer Group PLC (LON:MKS), whose shares were among top FTSE100 risers today.

It has started coverage of the retail stock with an ‘overweight’ recommendation, which puts it in the minority of City scribes.

Shares in MKS added over 2% to stand at 360.8p.

10.30am....FTSE 100 dipped into negative territory as UK retail sales for March showed the biggest quarterly fall for seven  years.

The bluechip benchmark lost over two points to move to 7,116, having been up a shade earlier.

The first three months of 2017 showed the effect of rising consumer prices, experts said.

In March itself, retail sales dropped 1.8% compared to the same month last year, worse than the 1.4% the previous month and far worse than the 0.5% fall the market expected.

Howard Archer, at IHS Markit, said the poor figures reinforced his belief that the Bank of England will not be raising interest rates any time soon.

"The MPC is very aware that consumer spending poses an appreciable downside risk to the growth outlook.

"We expect the Bank of England to sit tight through 2017 and 2018, and very possibly for some time beyond then – much will depend on how the Brexit negotiations develop," he reckons.

In stocks, a notable loser was consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser PLC (LON:RB.) whose shares shed 1.36% to 7,176p making it the biggest laggard on Footsie.

It told investors like-for-like sales were flat in the first quarter reflecting challenging market conditions.

READ - Headache for Reckitt Benckiser as like-for-like sales flat in first quarter reflecting challenging market conditions

Big cap  miners were on the  winning front as industrial metals prices firmed and sterling made gains against the dollar. Copper giant Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) added 1.76% to 841p.

 

10am....Retail sales figures show rising inflation hitting UK pockets

UK household spending looks like its falling, according to official retail sales figures out this morning.

ONS (Office of National Statistics) figures showed a 1.4% fall in the first three months of 2017, compared to a rise of 0.8% in the preceeding period.

Its the biggest quarterly fall in seven years and shows pressure starting to hit pockets after rising inflation since the Brexit vote last summer.

 

READ- Strategic Minerals very bullish as sales from its iron tailings project in New Mexico hit new record

A glance at the share chart  of resource group Strategic Minerals Plc (LON:SML) sows all you need to know about the group's  recent progress.

It plots a steady rise, with the stock rising  around four fold since the start of 2017 when it stood at about 0.5p and it's up again today - nearly 10% to 2p on an update on its latest quarter.

The latest three months saw record local sales at its iron ore tailings plan at Cobre in New Mexico, which is helping to funding exploration programmes for tin and tungsten in Cornwall and cobalt in Australia.

It has also recently signed up a new client at Cobre that it anticipates will double sales over the current year.

9am... FTSE 100 makes subdued start 

The FTSE 100 made a subdued start to the final day of the trading week, failing really to take any heed from the bounce back on Wall Street.

The index of blue-chip shares did open its account in positive territory, although the movement was a minimal seven points to 7,125.81.

Investors were perhaps wary in the aftermath of the Paris gun attack that could shape the way the French vote in the upcoming general election, which kicks off Sunday.

Looking at stocks, the miners were back in fashion after the recent sell off with Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) leading the Footsie as it posted a 2.9% rise.

Plant hire firm Ashtead (LON:AHT) bounced back 2% after taking a currency-related kicking on Thursday.

Quarterly numbers from consumer products giant Reckitt Benckiser (LON:RB.) failed to stack up, but the market appeared to be in charitable mood as the shares were marked down just 1.7%.

Moving down to the small-caps, ReNeuron (LON:RENE), a specialist in stem cell therapies, advanced 11% early on after positive updates on its clinical programmes for patients affected by stroke and with degenerative eye disease.

Proactive Headlines

Stem cell specialist ReNeuron Group Plc (LON:RENE) on Friday provided positive updates on two clinical programmes that also gave a roadmap for their progress.

The company said it is preparing to meet with US regulators on plans for a phase III trial of its treatment for victims of stroke, while it wants to expand its ophthalmology study

PowerHouse Energy Group PLC (LON:PHE) has announced the completion of the first phase of the re-commissioning of the waste to energy company’s G3-UHt unit, with the successful production of gas from the system.

BOS GLOBAL HOLDINGS Limited (LON:BOS), the software developer focused on workplace productivity, said its cash and paper deal to acquire 40% of Call Design will complete on May 21.

6.45am...Resurgent Wall Street to lead the way 

A strong performance overnight by shares on Wall Street should give London a boost when trading gets underway.

Financial spread bet firms see FTSE 100 adding at least ten points in first dealings to add to yesterday’s modest gain of four at 7,118.

Decent trading updates this week from big names such as Unilever and Associated British Foods have helped restore some confidence after the shock of the snap election.

Today it is the turn of Cillit Bang maker Reckitt Benckiser, though brokers are expecting a downbeat statement after its disastrous humidifier incident in South Korea.

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Good earnings also booted the mood in the US, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 174 at 20,578 and similar gains for the other main indices.

United States Steel Corp (NYSE: X) surged over 7% to $30.51 as it emerged that President Trump has reportedly ordered an investigation into whether foreign steel products are hurting national security.

Reflecting the upbeat sentiment, General Motors (NYSE:GM) added 0.92% to $34.10 even though Venezuela has seized its plant in the country.

Markets in Asia were mixed. Tokyo took its lead from New York and rose strongly. Hong Kong was up a touch while Shanghai eased lower.

City headlines

  • Britain’s second biggest mutual, the Yorkshire Building Society, is offering a record low mortgage rate of 0.89% amid a price war between lenders.The mutual is trying to attract prospective homebuyers deterred by growing political and economic uncertainty. – The Times
  • World Bank president Jim Kim has told Theresa may that cutting the UK’s aid budget could lead to a rise in conflict and migration. His remarks came in response to reports that the government was looking to ditch its commitment to devote 0.7% of national income to aid each year. Bill Gates also said lives would be lost in Africa if the government dropped its commitment.  – The Guardian
  • Chief executives’ pay packages in the UK have fallen as they face scrutiny from shareholders, according to consultancy PwC.  PwC’s analysis of 40 blue-chip businesses to publish their remuneration reports showed that 42.5% of their bosses did not get a salary increase this year. – The Telegraph
  • Confidence in the UK housing market has grown after record declines, Halifax revealed.  The housing market confidence index showed 58% expect the average property price to rise in the next 12 months, compared to 14% who expect prices to fall. – City Am

Commodities/currencies

  • £/$ - 1.2811 pound higher
  • Gold - down US$2 to US$1,280
  • Oil - US$50.8 up US$1

 

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