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Market Wrap - Midday

Miners support FTSE gains as Provident Financial continues to unravel

22 August 2017 11:54

Mining stocks supported the positive momentum of the FTSE 100 thanks to strong half year results from Antofagasta (ANTO) and BHP Billiton (BLT).

Provident Financial (PFG) crashed 72.5% to 989p after ditching its interim dividend. The company said its collections performance was running at 57% compared to 90% in 2016 and sales were also £9m per week lower than the comparative weeks in 2016. Chief executive Peter Crook has quit.

Rio Tinto (RIO) and Glencore (GLEN) followed their peers higher, gaining 2.8% and 0.9% to £35.45 and 345.5p respectively.

The FTSE 100 traded 0.6% higher at 7,365.

Brent crude oil nudged 0.2% to $51.76 per barrel. Gold retreated 0.6% to $1,283 per ounce and copper cheapened 0.4% to $6,547 per tonne.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

On Wall Street, stock markets were stable after geopolitical tensions with North Korea and political drama at Washington had weighed on shares earlier this month.

The Dow Jones was flat at 21,703 overnight.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

Housebuilder Persimmon (PSN) reported pre-tax profit up 30% to £457.4m in the first half of 2017. The stock was 1% higher at £25.82 on the good news.

Antofagasta had a strong first half with revenue up 41.9% at $2,049m, due to stronger copper prices and a 14.3% increase in sales volumes. Investors were pleased with the positive results, marking the shares 3.1% higher to 984.5p.

Elsewhere in the mining sector, BHP Billiton swung into the black in the year to the end of June with a profit of $5.9bn against a loss of $6.4bn last year. The company also announced plans to sell its onshore US assets, driving the stock 3% higher to £14.07.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Wood Group (WG.) was resilient at 570p despite operational profit falling 32.1% to $72m in the six months to 30 June 2017.

Cairn Energy (CNE) enjoyed a 3.6% lift to 180.2p after swinging into profit following strong progress across its business in the first half of the year. The oil and gas explorer reported $314m profit, up from a loss of $38m last time.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Hostelworld (HSW) returned to growth due to the strength of the core Hostelworld brand, which now represents 92% of total bookings. Adjusted pre-tax profit rose to €10.3m, up from €7.7m. The stock jumped 6.1% to 308.3p.

News from Ortac Resources (OTC) that its Casa Mining venture commenced exploration drilling operations at the 1.5Moz Akyanga deposit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo triggered a share price jump of 5% to 3.1p. Ortac owns 22.2% of Casa.

Sphere Medical's (SPHR) share price continued to suffer after the company announced it was considering leaving AIM and re-registering as a private limited firm. Over 80% of Sphere Medical's value has been wiped off since the announcement after the stock market closed on Monday. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

Related Company: PFG

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