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FTSE 100 seen flat in early trade as gold and silver inch lower, but copper and nickel rise

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Overview: mixed start is projected for the FTSE 100 as while the blue chips are expected to be buoyed by news from other markets, which have performed well as Wall Street closed higher on Friday, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was slightly up at midday, oil and metals prices inched down, signalling a slow start for the commodity and energy related stocks, which as the key movers in the FTSE 100.

West Texas Intermediate slid to US$72/barrel, while Brent Crude spot slipped below US$70, settling at US$69.7/barrel.

Gold moved down to US$1,000/oz, while Silver and Platinum followed, declining to US$16.56 and US$1,323/oz respectively.

However, base metals moved in a different direction with Copper improving to US$2.79/pound, Nickel edging up to US$7.75/pound and Zinc reaching US$0.86/pound.

Morning news wrap

In the FTSE 100, investment firm Alliance Trust (LSE: ATST) released its interim report, saying it had increased net asset value by 6.8% and achieved a total shareholder return of 8.8%. The company expects to pay a final dividend of 2.025 pence per share.

Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) said it completed the sale of its Corumba iron ore mine in Brazil and associated river logistics operations to Vale S.A. for a total US$750 million. The blue chip miner has disposed of US$6.6 billion worth of assets over the past 18 months.

Commercial property company Land Securities (LSE: LAND) confirmed it had sold its one third ownership of the Bullring, Birmingham shopping centre to Australian government’s investment fund Future Fund for £210 million. The centre, which spans over 1.2 million square feet, provides a total annual rental income of £45 million.

In the FTSE 250, oil and gas company Soco International (LSE: SIA) said the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade approved the development plan for its Te Giac Trang field. Soco has so far drilled seven exploration and appraisal wells in the TGT field with an average oil and gas flow of 11,300 boepd (barrels of oil equivalent per day). The company simultaneously announced the spu8dding of the Viodo 4 appraisal well in the Marine XI Block in the Congo Basin, offshore the Republic of Congo. The well is targeting an extension of the core area of the field drilled by the VIM-1 discovery well.

In the AIM, Chinese coal bed methane business Green Dragon Gas (AIM: GDG) released its interim results, saying revenues soared 787% year on year to US$18.7 million from US$2.4 million, while gas sales rose 13% to 5 billion cubic feet. Post tax loss narrowed 10% to US$11 million, leading to an decrease in losses per share to US$0.096 from last year’s US$0.134.

Mobile email and data synchronization solutions provider Synchronica (AIM: SYNC) has won yet another order for its Mobile Gateway product, marking its ninth deal of 2009. The order received from a Middle Eastern operator is for an initial 100,000 user license and is worth US$162,000.

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