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FTSE slips as US Healthcare Bill vote looms

24 March 2017 17:00

London stocks ended their lacklustre Friday marginally lower with the market now looking to the US for the outcome of the congressional vote on US President Donald Trump's Healthcare Bill.

Traders are also preparing for next week when the UK's divorce talks with the EU are triggered.

The FTSE 100 closed down 3.89 points, or 0.05%, to 7336.82, while the FTSE 250 ended the day down 21.83, or 0.11%, to 18,890.4. At 4.44pm, both grades of crude oil were pricing mildly firmer ahead of a Sunday Opec meeting, while safe-haven gold ticked a little higher, too.

The looming US congressional vote on the Healthcare Bill dented pharmas, with Hikma (HIK) falling 1.18% to 2002p, Astrazeneca (AZN) fading 0.63% to 4928.25p and Glaxosmithkline (GSK) shedding 0.27% to 1670.5p.

Residential property was hurt by mortgage data out earlier that showed fewer mortgages were approved in February. Barratt Developments (BDEV) fell 1.18% to 542.5p, while Taylor Wimpey (TW.) lost 1.72% to 191.45p.

Smurfit Kappa (SKG) led the blue-chip losers with a 3.13% slide to 2087.5p, while Ashtead (AHT) followed with a 2.43% drop to 1609p, and then came BT Group (BT.A) with a 1.74% tumble to 325.65p.

To the upside, Smiths Group (SMIN) rose 2.89% to 1601p after its well-received FY numbers. Pretax profit was £248m, up 31%, with revenue coming in at £1.6bn, up 18%. Interim dividend was 13.55p a share, up from 13.25p. Its outlook for 2017 unchanged.

Further back was Land Securities (LAND), up 0.19% to 1055p, which said it was in talks with Deutsche Bank regarding a pre-let for the development. There was no guarantee these talks would lead to a transaction.

While multiple miners lost moderate ground, gold-sensitive metals burrowers Randgold (RRS), up 0.92% to 7160p, and Fresnillo (FRES), up 0.59% to 1545p, made gains. Banks and utilities were also broadly ahead.

ECONOMIC NEWS

UK banks approved a smaller number of mortgages in February, the British Banking Association's monthly report has showed. BBA said mortgage approvals in February totalled 42,613, down 3.4% from January's revised 44,142 and 4.6% down from February 2016.

Eurozone's flash manufacturing purchasing-managers' index (PMI) for March rose to 56.2, from 55.4 previously and against views for 55.3. The flash services PMI for March was at 56.5, above views for 55.3 and from 55.5.

Stateside, flash US manufacturing PMI fell to 53.4 in March, down from 54.2 in February, and versus forecasts for 54.0. The country's flash' services PMI came in at 52.9 in March, from 53.8 previously and compared with expectations for 53.9.

Meantime, new orders for US manufactured durable goods in February rose $3.9bn, or 1.7%, to $235.4bn, the US Census Bureau said. Core new orders for US manufactured durable goods excluding transportation firmed 0.4% in February, the bureau said.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Minoan Group (MIN) was up 45.28% to 9.63p after reports in the Greek media stated the appeals against the Presidential Decree granting land use approval for its project in Crete have been rejected by the Greek Supreme Court.

Tethys Petroleum (TPL) was down 35.71% to 1.13p after applying to the UK listing authority to cancel the standard listings of its shares. The company had decided the costs of maintaining a dual listing in London and Toronto was too expensive. It would remain listed in Toronto.

Digital Barriers (DGB), down 18.13% to 25.38p, warned it faced a shortfall in FY revenues of about £10m if contracts currently under negotiation were not signed by the end of March. However, it noted that it expected to secure all of these awards.

IG Design Group (IGR), up 15.31% to 305p, has confirmed revenues for the year to March 31 were expected to achieve record levels and exceed £300m. It also expected profitability to be ahead of current market forecasts.

Tlou Energy (TLOU), down 8.86% to 6.38p, has successfully raised a A$5.2m in a placement of 51.8m new shares at A$0.10 each, with proceeds being used for a variety of purposes as the company also unveiled a share purchase plan.

Robinson (RBN), down 7.12% to 124p, has more than doubled its FY pretax profit on the back of a slip in revenue in what it described as a difficult market. "Although we anticipated a difficult market in 2016, we had expected growth from new business in the pipeline," it said.

Shares in Ortac Resources (OTC) were up an astonishing 10,257%% to 3.63p. Earlier in March, the company announced a one-for-100 capital reorganisation.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

Related Company: SMIN

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