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Market Wrap - Market Open

FTSE falls ahead of ECB as Morrisons, Aviva in focus

09 March 2017 09:01

London equities opened lower amid a flurry of ex-dividend issues and corporate news as the market looks the results of European Central Bank's policy meeting at 12.30pm. A falling Morrisons (MRW) and rising Aviva (AV.) were in focus on their latest annual results.

Not long after the market opened, FTSE 100 was down 42.73 points, or 0.58%, to 7291.88, with FTSE 250 up 61.15, or 0.32%, to 18,869.9.

Morrisons (MRW), down 6.01% to 232.15p and atop the blue-chip losers' list, has upped its FY pretax profit by 49.8% to £325m, from £242m, but, looking ahead, has cautioned on the impact of a weaker sterling, depreciation and pension costs.

It was followed by a string of big-ticket miners as the prices of gold, silver and copper fell. Ex-div BHP Billiton (BLT) lost 4.09% to 1271.75p, while Anglo American (AAL) eased 2.93% to 1169.25p and Fresnillo (FRES) faded 2.07% to 1348.5p. More followed.

BT Group (BT.A), down 0.09% to 328.2p, has appointed departing Rio Tinto (RIO), down 1.52% to 3211.5p, chairman Jan du Plessis to succeed Sir Mike Rake as chairman of the telecoms giant.

In other news, Old Mutual (OML), down 1.13% to 226.5p, has booked a steady FY pre-tax profit of £1.2bn, from £1.2bn and including impairments totalling £160m. Other sectors lower included oil majors, even though crude prices were advancing.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA), down 1.42% to 2095.75p, has agreed to sell all of its in-situ and undeveloped oil sands interests in Canada and reduce its share in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) from 60% to 10%.

To the limited upside, where most gains were considerably less than 0.5%, house builders were in some focus.

Ex-div Aviva (AV.), up 6.12% to 542.25 and head and shoulders above other risers, said its operating profit rose 12% to £3,010m in 2016. After-tax profit fell 22% to £859m, from £1.1bn, including the £380m after-tax charge due to the reduction in the Ogden discount rate.

Ex-div stocks of note included Hargreaves Lansdown, Persimmon, MJ Gleeson, Dechra Pharmaceuticals, Shire, Thomas Cook, St Modwen and Renishaw, among a long list of others.


Eqtec (EQT) fell 16.67% to 6.25p as it raised £485,000 via a placing of 7.5m new shares at 6.5p each, with net proceeds primarily going to continuing the development of the Newry Biomass project.

STM Group (STM) fell 15.19% to 33.5p after warning its ability to grow the number of QROPS policies it administers following the Spring Budget, which indicated charges and tax implications for some individuals considering taking out a QROPS transfer from a UK pension.

Vipera (VIP) has, along with its local partner Wavepac Infosystems, entered an agreement with the Arab Bank for Investment & Foreign Trade (Al Masraf) for a multi phase project covering the design, development and implementation of a mobile banking and bill payment solution. Shares in VIP were up 14.71% to 4.88p.


Nautilus (NAUT) dropped 14.49% to 14.75p as it posted a narrower FY pretax loss of $6.3m, from a loss of $26.7m. Revenue ws down at $178,000, from $365,000.

Symphony Environmental (SYM) rose 13.85% to 9.25p as it swung to a FY pretax profit of £0.12m, from a loss of £2.3m. Revenues were up, and the company linked the swing to earnings to a substantial reduction in overheads.

Jubilee Platinum (JLP) rose 10.55% to 6.03p as it executed a binding and exclusive Term Sheet to enter into a transaction with Resilience Mining Australia Ltd (RMA) to explore and develop RMA's Leigh Copper Mine and other copper Mining Tenements, collectively owned or held by Leigh Copper Mine Proprietary Ltd.

Domino's Pizza Group (DOM), down 11.36% to 349.25p, has reported a strong performance in the 52 weeks to 25 December with system sales up 14.5% at £1,004.2m and underlying pre-tax profits up 17.1% at £85.7m. On a statutory basis, after tax profits rose by 9.9% to £65.2m.

Countrywide (CWD), down 6.94% to174.25p, has posted FY operating profits of £28.9m, down from £53.8m in 2015, and announced a non pre-emptive placing of up to 21,610,467 new ordinary shares, about 9.99% of the existing share capital.

Ilika (IKA), up 5.1% to 51.5p, has announced an initial, one-year, commercially-funded project to develop game-changing energy materials in collaboration with Toyota. Elegant Hotels Group (EHG), up 2.17% to 82.5p, has signed a marketing and sales services agreement with The Landings Resort and Spa by Elegant Hotels in St. Lucia.

Sports Direct International (SPD), down 1.93% to 286.65p, has begun the process of electing a Workers' Representative who will attend its board meetings. CAP-XX (CPX), up 2.5% to 10.25p, has launched two new ranges of supercapacitors for applications in the Internet of Things.

Other stocks in the news included Charles Taylor (CTR), DS Smith (SMDS), Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX), 32Red (TTR), JD Sports Fashion (JD.), Capital & Regional (CAL).

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