Airline stocks were lower in late afternoon trade, with EasyJet PLC (LON:EZJ) down 1.2% to 1,444p and Ryanair Holdings PLC [LON:RYA] down 1.7% at €13.33 and International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON:IAG) shares off 3.2% to 659p after IAG's British Airways unit said personal and financial details of hundreds of thousands of customers were stolen in a hack of its website and mobile app.
British Airways is “investigating, as a matter of urgency” a cyber hack that resulted in the theft of customer data from bookings made between August 21 and September 5 online or via the app. Roughly 380,000 payments were compromised.
Elsewhere on the FTSE 100, apparel retailers were under pressure following a poor August sales report for UK shops. Marks & Spencer PLC (LON:MKS) fell 1.2% to 293.70p, while Next Plc (LON:NXT) shed 1.2% at 5,424p, and department stores operator Debenhams PLC (LON:DEB) gave up 1.1% to 12.00p.
BDO, an accountancy and business advisory firm, said its monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) showed like-for-like sales dropped 2.7% last month from a year earlier.
Christian Mazauric, chief executive of Kingfisher’s B&Q business in the UK & Ireland, will succeed Tenart, effective October 1. The announcement comes ahead of the release of Kingfisher’s first-half results on September 19.
12:45pm: Burberry weakens as Goldman cuts to ‘neutral’
Burberry Group PLC (LON:BRBY) shares declined 0.8% to 2,078p in lunchtime trading after Goldman Sachs reportedly downgraded the luxury-goods maker to a ‘neutral’ rating from ‘buy’ and bumped the company from its ‘conviction buy’ list.
The move comes a day after the FTSE 100 component said it will stop burning its unsold goods, a response to backlash over the practice’s impact on the environment. Burberry also said it will stop using real animal fur in its products.
Separately, RBC reiterated its ‘underperform’ rating on Burberry but raised its price target to 1,875p from 1,750p.
Another FTSE 100 faller was Shire Plc (LON:SHP), shares in which pulled back 0.7% to 4,299p following a ratings downgrade to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ of the drug maker at Berenberg as part of a review of its biotech coverage.
Valuations of Shire shares “offer little upside from current levels,” the German bank pointed out particularly given the pending takeover by Japan’s Takeda.
RBC analysts said: “We see recent underperformance as a buying opportunity, given the valuation versus growth dynamics, particularly in reference to other defensive growth names in Business Services.”
M&A opportunities could emerge from DCC’s recent entry into the US liquified petroleum gas and healthcare markets, the analysts said.
The FTSE 250 listed company posted a 2.8% rise in like-for-like sales in the 18 weeks to September 2, bolstered by customers heading to its pubs to watch World Cup matches and to enjoy drinks during the UK’s heatwave.
11:15am: Resource minnows higher after news
Amerisur Resources PLC (LON:AMER) shares gained 0.7% to 1,490p in late morning trading after the oil and gas producer issued operational updates for various production and exploration assets in Colombia.
Amerisur’s chief executive John Wardle said in the statement: “After some delays, we look forward to a busy period of seismic and exploration drilling activity in the weeks and months ahead, with a focus on the OBA cluster acreage we have built up at low cost in the oil downturn.”
He added: “Current production has stabilised and at the right time we may increase production rates at Platanillo-22 whilst preserving the long-term integrity of the well.”
Among other AIM gainers, Pan African Resources PLC (LON:PAF) rose 2.4% to 800p as the firm announced Barberton Mines Proprietary Limited has successfully concluded a three-year wage agreement with the National Union of Mineworker and the United Association of South Africa.
The agreement provides for an average annual wage increase of approximately 6.5% and 5.5% for NUM and UASA members, respectively, over the three years.
Meanwhile, Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV) climbed 5.3% to 250p after the mineral exploration company received permission to carry out an airborne electromagnetic geophysical survey over its KSZ Project in southwest Botswana.
Flying is expected to commence shortly, said Kavango’s chief executive Michael Foster.
9:30am: Anglo African O&G details disruption to drilling at Tilapia field in the Congo
Anglo African Oil & Gas PLC (LON:AAOG) saw its shares retreat in early morning trading, losing 5.3% at 8.05p as the independent explorer provided an update to the disruption to drilling on the TLP 103 well at the Tilapia field in the Republic of the Congo which it remains committed to drilling.
The AIM-listed group said the process to prepare the new location, move the rig and re-spud the TLP 103 well is expected to take approximately 25 days, and following the re-spud, it is expected that drilling will take 64 days to complete.
The company pointed out that, in addition to contingencies in the drilling budget and potential offsets and claims under insurance policies, the company has available to it offers of debt finance sufficient to meet any cost overruns due to the delay and need to re-spud.
Elsewhere in the oil sector, EnQuest PLC (LON:ENQ) shares dropped 11.3% to 34.25p as the main market-listed explorer and producer launched a US$138mln cash call to fund the acquisition of a larger stake in the Magnus asset in the North Sea.
The company is undertaking a 3-for-7 rights issue of 508,321,844 new ordinary shares at an issue price of 21p each.
In January 2017, the oil firm agreed a deal with BP to acquire 25% of the Magnus, Thistle and Deveron fields – together referred to as the Magnus acquisition – and, it also received a right to acquire more of the project.
And Plus500 Limited (LON:PLUS) saw its shares shed 4.3% at 1,539 after Playtech PLC (LON:PTEC) sold its entire 10% shareholding in the online trading platform at 1,550p a share, raising about £176mln, giving no details on the buyer.
The announcement comes a day after a group of individual founding shareholders in Israel-based Plus500 sold an 8% stake in the company, also at a price of 1,550p each, citing "significant demand from a small number of institutional investors".
Proactive news headlines:
Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO) has signed up a contractor for a 3D-seismic programme across its assets in Argentina, starting with the ‘high impact, frontier scale’ Tapi Aike exploration area. The programme is due to get underway at Tapi Aike in November, to be followed by the Fraccíon C and Fraccíon D areas and it is scheduled to complete in the second quarter of 2019.
Pan African Resources PLC (LON:PAF) has announced that Barberton Mines Proprietary Limited has successfully concluded a three-year wage agreement with the National Union of Mineworker and the United Association of South Africa. The AIM-listed firm said the agreement provides for an average annual wage increase of approximately 6.5% and 5.5% for NUM and UASA members, respectively, over the three years.
Chagala Group Limited (LON:CGLO) has received a cash offer from Realty Invest Holding, which values the Kazakhstan-based accommodation firm at US$46mln. The offer was procured by TIPP Investments as part of its settlement deal in June in relation to its ownership of Chagala shares.
Some lupus patients will soon have access to a potentially “ground-breaking” new treatment after Immupharma PLC (LON:IMM) signed an agreement which will see it press ahead with a managed access programme (MAP).
Galantas Gold Corp (LON:GAL; CVE:GAL) has revealed plans for a private placement to raise funds for the development of its Omagh gold mine in Northern Ireland.
Ethernity Networks Ltd’s (LON:ENET) chief executive David Levi has said the firm is continuing its transition towards becoming a solutions provider for virtual networking and security appliances following a contraction in earnings for the first half.
Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) is confident over the future of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies even though prices have slumped recently. Jonathan Bixby, Argo's executive chairman, said demand for crypto mining services will grow as the sector becomes more widely accepted.
Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV) has received permission to carry out an airborne electromagnetic geophysical survey over its KSZ Project in southwest Botswana. Flying is expected to commence shortly, said Michael Foster, chief executive.
Tekcapital PLC (LON:TEK), the UK-intellectual property (IP) investment group focused on creating marketplace value from university technology, announced that Novum Securities has been appointed as joint broker to the company with immediate effect.