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Market Wrap - Midday

Miners drag on FTSE as commodity prices fall

31 March 2017 11:49

Weaker commodity prices hit miners with Anglo American (AAL), Antofagasta (ANTO) and BHP Billiton (BLT) falling by over 2.5%.

A stronger performance from utility heavyweights National Grid (NG.) and United Utilities (UU.) failed to offset the blue chip index as the FTSE 100 fell by 0.5% to 7,331.

The UK economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2016 thanks to continued strong consumer spending and output in consumer-focused industries.

High street bank Nationwide's latest house price index revealed that house prices fell 0.3% month-on-month in March.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil slipped approximately 0.7% to $50 and $52.56 per barrel, respectively.

Gold nudged 0.3% lower to $1,241 per ounce and copper was one of the few commodities to rise 0.3% to $5,886 per tonne.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

In the US, investors were reassured by recent economic growth data as the Dow Jones and S&P 500 closed 0.3% higher on Thursday night.

Shanghai's SSE Composite shrugged off concerns about China's steel industry expanding at a slower pace in March as the index rose 0.4% on Friday.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo and Hang Seng failed to follow suit and both closed 0.8% lower.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

The sacking of South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan caused the rand to experience its biggest fall since 2015. That was bad news for South African insurer Old Mutual (OML) which dived 7% to 201.4p.

Shares in pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) remained subdued despite its lung cancer drug Tagrisso being granted full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company also completed an agreement with TerSera Therapeutics for commercial rights to hormone-releasing medicine Zoladex in the US and Canada.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Shawbrook Group (SHAW) rose 9.6% to 333.5p after Pollen Street and BC Partners made a formal takeover offer at 330p, the same price at their previously-rejected proposal. The board recommended to shareholders that they reject the offer.

SMALLER CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Stockbroker Numis (NUM) softened 0.7% to 244.5p after warning that first half total income would be moderately lower than the same period a year earlier. The group said it had several corporate transactions due to complete in the next few weeks. Management remained confident in the outcome for the full year based on the strength of its pipeline.

The FDA didn't agree with Oxford Pharmascience's (OXP) proposed Phase III study design for the OXPzero Ibuprofen prescription programme, which wiped off over a third of the firm's value to 1.9p.

Troubled courier DX (DX.) confirmed talks with John Menzies (MNZS) to potentially merge with the latter's distribution division. Its share price rose 3.3% to 9.8p. John Menzies jumped by 7.2% to 680.5p.

North Midland Construction (NMD) rose 28.8% to 264p after reporting an improved full year pre-tax profit of £2.1m, from £606,000. It said a significant proportion of its 2017 turnover was secured.

Screening products developer Akers Biosciences (AKR) fell 17% to 145p after revealing a placing to raise $2m to grow capital and for general corporate purposes.

BMR Group (BMR) fell 16.7% to 6p after it flagged delays to starting production on a tailings project in Zambia.

Hostel operator Safestay (SSTY) agreed a £18.4m debt restructuring and refinancing to replace existing convertible and bank debt. It also completed the sale and leaseback transactions on its hostels in Edinburgh and Elephant & Castle, raising proceeds of £12.6m.

Property developer Trafalgar New Homes (TRAF) crumbled 8.6% to 0.8p on news that its major developments wouldn't be ready to sell by its financial year-end.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

Related Company: OML

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