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Market Wrap - Midday

FTSE flat as miners threaten to outweigh strong bank stocks

21 September 2017 11:56

The FTSE 100 was flat at 7,272 as weaker miners looked like they might more than offset a strong performance from banking stocks.

High street bank Barclays (BARC) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) were among the top performers, rising 2.8% and 1.8%, respectively.

But weaker miners threatened to drag the blue-chip index into the red as Fresnillo (FRES) and Randgold Resources (RRS) led the descent, down 3.2% and 2.6%.

Budget airline Ryanair (RYA) dipped 0.4% to €16.45 following a rejection of substantial bonuses by a number of its pilots as it bids to reduce cancellations.

Brent crude oil slipped 0.4% to $56 per barrel. Gold declined 1.3% to $1,294 per ounce and copper cheapened 1% to $6,437 per tonne.


The revelation that building materials firm CRH (CRH) plans to buy US cement maker Ash Grove Cement sparked a share price rally of 3% to £27.34. The building materials business said the $3.5bn deal would expand its exposure to the North American market.

Compass (CPG) announced the departure of chief executive Richard Cousins, who plans to retire at the end of September 2018 and will be replaced by Europe chief operating officer Dominic Blakemore. Shares in the contract caterer retreated 2% to £15.80.


Construction company Kier (KIE) was the biggest mid-cap riser, up 7.7% to £11.81. Pre-tax profit rose 3.5% to £146m in the year to 30 June, supported by a strong order book.

A one-off restructuring charge and disposal costs at outsourcer Capita (CPI) shocked investors as these hit pre-tax profit by £9m to £28m in the six months to 30 June. The stock dropped 10.7% to 574.8p on the results.

Poor weather dampened sales growth at pub operator Mitchells & Butlers (MAB). Like-for-like sales growth was a mere 0.3% in the eight weeks to 16 September and drink sales slumped 1.2%. Investors were disappointed as the shares dropped 5% to 234.9p.

At Drax (DRX), chief executive Dorothy Thompson's decision to leave left the share price drifting 1.5% up to 315.2p. Thompson will be replaced by finance head Will Gardiner.

Spread betting business IG Group (IGG) benefited from an expanded client base as first quarter sales increased, helping the shares nudge 0.6% higher to 622.5p.

Miner Vedanta (VED) was flat at 834.5p despite founder Anil Agarwal's decision to increase his personal stake by £1.5bn.


Gold miner Anglo Asian Mining (AAZ) fell 4.1% to 31.4p on a pre-tax loss of $1.3m in the first half of 2017, down from a profit of $5.3m in 2016 as lower production made an impact.

Dispute resolution services provider Driver Group (DRV) rallied 21.6% to 62p after its pre-tax profit exceeded expectations. Management said the group benefited from managing overheads and improved utilisation rates.

Shares in door manufacturer Safestyle (SFE) gained 12% to 207.7p despite its pre-tax profit falling by 7.4% to £8.8m in the first half with revenue growth of just 1.4% to £82.5m. The market focused on a confident outlook that said Safestyle would continue to win market share.

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