Markets: FTSE 100 unstable on Monday

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17:10 - The FTSE 100 (UKX) ended its fairly rocky ride on safe ground at Monday's close with question marks over Europe remaining and a lack of any spark from US markets, which were closed for a national holiday.

The benchmark index ended 20.80 points higher at 5657.44, with GKN (GKN) leading the winning stocks as Carnival (CCL) finished a miserable day more than 17% lower.

Meanwhile on AIM, VSA Capital (VSA) won the day, closing 51% higher, while biometrics and surveillance firm RCG Holdings () led the losing stocks, plunging 30%.

Interactive Investor users were crazy for Range Resources (RRL), which was the most traded stock on the site today, with two shares bought for every one sold. Tesco (TSCO) was also popular with buyers on the site, while Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) was widely sold.

Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG Index said the relatively quiet day is the calm after the storm because both the S&P downgrade and the failure of Greek debt talks were anticipated.

"Even comments from Ernst & Young about a new UK recession have been insufficient to disrupt the library-like atmosphere of markets today. The US recovery on Friday night means that markets have opted not to panic, with demand for defensive stocks helping to offset losses in racier assets like banks. It seems that European traders are happy to wait for their US counterparts to rejoin the fray," he commented.

Looking ahead, there are more talks on Greece beginning tomorrow, providing plenty of opportunity for politicians and officials to surprise markets with unguarded statements.

At a glance...


Gold: $1,644.30

WTI crude oil: $99.61


GBP/USD: 1.5334

GBP/EUR: 1.2096

EUR/USD: 1.2676

All changes from 09:00 GMT.

16:54 - Stamp and collectible company Stanley Gibbons (SGI) saw its shares move higher as it said it expected performance for the year ended 31 December to be broadly in line with market expectations, showing growth in sales, profit and operating cash generation.

The company expects to continue to grow revenues derived from its websites in 2012 through ongoing developments.

16:43 - The latest quarterly report from EMED Mining (EMED) highlighted the company's positive view of the permitting and start-up of the Rio Tinto copper mine following public declarations of support from the Andalucian government.

The Rio Tinto mine, which has no connection with the mining company of the same name, has been on "care and maintenance" since 2001. EMED bought it in 2008 and believes it contains 2.1 billion pounds of copper.

Managing director Harry Anagnostaras Adams said the company was committed to the timetable that aims to trigger the restart during the third quarter, followed by a ramp-up to target steady-state production of nine million tonnes of ore per annum and concentrate containing 82 million pounds of copper in 2014.

16:32 - Bahamas Petroleum (BPC) announced the initial results from the Pearl 3D seismic survey, citing the data quality as "excellent".

Detailed interpretation is now underway, and will form the basis of where the well is located, plus its design.

Early-stage interpretation better defines the prospective structures seen on the previous 2D data, said the company: "Significantly, the data provide encouragement regarding source maturity and fetch area."

16:20 - The market responded positively to the operations update from Green Dragon Gas (GDG) on Monday.

Further "substantial" progress was reported from the group's Chinese gas assets, with 131% more wells drilled in 2011: "The acceleration in the number of wells drilled is a reflection of the company's shift in focus from exploration wells to the roll-out of production wells across the Shizhuang South Block," the firm said in a statement.

Green Dragon added that upstream production for the fourth quarter was 407.49 million cubic feet (11,543,652 cubic metres), an increase of 126% year-on-year. "We remain on target to meet the aggressive growth targets put in place by the company," said CEO Randeep Grewal.

16:08 - Shares in Alecto Minerals (ALO) headed down as the firm announced it has finalised the design of the scout drilling programme at the Wad Amour gold project in Mauritania.

The campaign - designed to test the extent of the mineralisation at depth - will comprise 12 holes, focused primarily on targeting iron oxide copper gold mineralisation.

Previous rock chip sampling has returned grades of up to 5.8% copper and also gold and silver.

15:54 - Shares in Siteserv (SSV) plunged by 33% on Monday as the Dublin-based company confirmed media speculation regarding its debt levels and the impact this may have on the value of shares.

The company is currently working on renegotiating its banking facilities through to December 2012: "At this stage it is not possible to predict the outcome of this exercise nor quantify the financial impact for shareholders," said the firm, which will make a further statement in due course.

15:41 - Alliance Pharma (APH) experienced a near 10% fall in its share price following Monday's pre-close trading update.

The speciality pharmaceuticals group said turnover for the year just gone should come in at around £46 million, with net profits in line with market expectations.

Still, sales of two drugs were cited as challenging, with the group concerned about the sales of Nu-Seals drugs due to efforts by the Irish government to reduce its medicines bill. Alliance Pharma has initiated further efficiency measures to compensate for reduced sales.

15:29 - Abcam's (ABC) brief half-year trading update saw revenues rise by 13.5% in the period.

Margins benefited from continued cost control. Online catalogue sales grew nicely, up 18.3%, and the management expects to meet profit expectations for the full year.

15:15 - The sale of its UK advisory business prompted a share price boost for Camco (CAO) on Monday.

The global developer of clean energy projects has sold Camco Advisory Services to Baxi Partnership for £4.5 million.

The unit has 58 employees and was turned from a loss-making position in 2009 to making a small profit, of £0.5 million, in 2010. Camco decided to sell the unit because it falls outside its core operations, and will use the proceeds to grow its remaining departments.

15:00 - The FTSE 100 (UKX) was largely flat by mid-afternoon as investors absorbed S&P's credit ratings downgrades of nine eurozone countries.

London's blue-chip index hovered four points in the black at 5638 with media group Pearson (PSON) enjoying strong gains, while Carnival (CCL) remained the biggest faller, almost 17% lower.

At a glance...


Gold: $1,641.69

WTI crude oil: $99.64


GBP/USD: 1.5313

GBP/EUR: 1.2085

EUR/USD: 1.2667

All changes from 09:00 GMT.

14:43 - Forbidden Technologies (FBT) saw its stock drop slightly as the video platform company announced a full-year trading update.

Forbidden said organic growth drove a double-digit percentage sales increase in 2011, and the visible sales pipeline for 2012 shows further expansion.

14:18 - Motive Television's () trading update on Monday saw the group confirm that financial results for 2011 will be in line with market expectations.

This follows the integration of two acquisitions in 2011, and Motive sees itself as well positioned to reap the rewards of these in 2012: "The company is pleased to report that Motive has enjoyed some significant success in gaining recognition of the company's products among major broadcasters, cable and satellite pay television operators and other participants in the video industry in both Europe and the Americas."

14:07 - Jubilant Energy () shares remained flat after it advised that KPL-F - the fifth of the seven development wells of the phase-III drilling campaign in Kharsang field in Arunachal Pradesh - spudded on 13 January.

KPL-F, located in the southern area of the field to the south of well KSG#55, is being drilled with the primary objective of appraising the lower S-00 reservoir oil bearing sands together with a secondary objective of appraising the Q-00 and T-00 sand layers.

The well will be deviated by approximately 522 metres to the south from the existing plinth of well KSG NO.48 and drilled to a target depth of approximately 1,480 metres true vertical depth.

13:55 - Cyan Holdings (CYAN) updated investors on developments in the Chinese lighting market on Monday.

The company, which delivers wireless solutions for lighting control and industrial metering, has received a new lighting order, meaning it now has over 40 active lighting customers in China. The new order is initially for 5,000 units, which have already been shipped.

The end customer expects to start installing after the Chinese New Year, with the project to be completed in 2012.

13:29 - Bankers Petroleum (BNK) announced a series of management changes on Monday.

Ian McMurtrie has retired as executive vice president of exploration and development and will continues to act as a director. Robert Carss has been promoted to vice president of health, safety, social and environment. Vice president of engineering Eugene Christensen is leaving the company.

13:06 - News that Sylvania Platinum (SLP) has delisted from the Australian Securities Exchange resulted in a slight uptick in the London-listed stock on Monday.

Sylvania will continue to be present on AIM.

12:45 - Monday's announcement from Kefi Minerals (KEFI) prompted a slight dip in the stock, as the gold and copper explorer has allowed its exclusivity period to lapse with regard to a tailings retreatment project and mining of remnant ore at a Moroccan mine.

Following due diligence and evaluation work, the miner decided not to pursue the site, as it has demonstrated less potential than initially expected.

12:27 - Monday's trading update from Bovis Homes (BVS) resulted in a slight uptick for the stock, as the group said profit for 2011 will be in line with current market expectations when it reports on 27 February.

The completion of 2,045 homes for the year is an increase of 8%, and the average private sales price rose by 4.5%. More importantly, the homes group said it is well placed to "improve returns in 2012 and beyond". As of 1 January, the group has held forward sales of 568 homes, a 35% rise on last year.

Mark Hughes at Panmure Gordon said Bovis has issued a strong update and is clearly in a good position considering its balance sheet, "but its ROCE [return on capital employed] lags the sector average with a 5% forecast for 2011 improving to 7% in 2012". The analyst maintained a 'hold' recommendation, saying there are better deals elsewhere in the sector at this price.

12:14 - Arian Silver (AGQ) updated investors on further encouraging results from the its Phase 4 exploration drilling programme at its San Jose property in Zacatecas State, Mexico.

Arian Silver said 36 drill holes for 9,400 metres had been completed so far, with multiple high-grade silver intercepts with step-out and infill drilling along the San Jose Vein.

It said an induced polarisation (IP) survey had been completed on the western end of the SJV and a resource estimate update was anticipated following completion of Phase 4 drilling.

12:00 - The FTSE 100 (UKX) saw erratic trading throughout Monday morning as concerns about the eurozone crept in.

The leading index was three points lower at 5633 with Pearson (PSON) taking the top spot, while embattled Carnival (CCL) remained down more than 15%.

On AIM, VSA Capital (VSA) was the biggest winner, up almost 40%, while Hot Tuna (HTT) hurtled 52% into the red.

Looking ahead to the afternoon, David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Index believes that "perhaps the greater danger will be the breakdown of Greek debt talks, pushing that nation closer to default. If Greece were to up sticks and leave the currency, then this Pandora's box could prove to be far worse than a simple statement of the obvious from a ratings agency."

With US markets closed for the Martin Luther King holiday, no economic data will be released this afternoon. Thus, the focus remains, as ever, on the travails of the single currency and the increasingly desperate attempts to save the euro.

At a glance...


Gold: $1,646.55

WTI crude oil: $99.25


GBP/USD: 1.5305

GBP/EUR: 1.2080

EUR/USD: 1.2666

All changes from 09:00 GMT.

11:45 - The UK is probably already in a new recession, according to new estimates from highly-regarded economic forecaster the Ernst & Young ITEM Club.

As troubles in the eurozone are holding back Britain's recovery, ITEM Club believes GDP shrunk in the final quarter of last year, and will fall again this quarter. This would constitute a recession.

Read: ITEM Club: UK back in recession, for more.

11:27 - Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX), the consolidator of closed life funds, saw shares fall on Monday as it announced that discussions about a potential takeover by CVC remain unresolved.

The brief statement explained that nothing has yet been decided, but the parties were still talking. Phoenix will provide a further update within 28 days.

11:08 - London is to become the first international hub for trade in China's yuan.

Chancellor George Osborne made the announcement on Monday from Hong Kong, where he has been finalising the plans which were initiated last summer and which bankers say could bring billions of pounds to the UK.

Read: London is first international yuan trading hub, for the full story.

10:49 - Shares in Balfour Beatty (BBY) gained slightly on Monday following good news from the construction group: it has been awarded £100 million worth of contracts in the commercial sector.

This included an £18 million contract for Land Securities (LAND) to provide a new five-storey residential and retail scheme in the centre of Glasgow, and a £57 million contract in London to construct a prime office development for AXA Real Estate. In the last of three projects scheduled for completion in 2013, Balfour Beatty will build a £25 million, 11-storey office building for Viridis Real Estate Service in London's financial centre.

"We are delighted to see encouraging signs of renewed activity in the London commercial sector," said CEO Ian Tyler.

10:35 - Paragon Diamonds () has announced a provisional modelled grade and in house tonnage estimate for its recently awarded Motete Dyke Licence in Lesotho.

Submitted results from the first 200-kilogram sample for initial grade modelling by specialist consultants show that the dyke is likely to be diamondiferous with a grade of between 1.27 carats per tonne at 1-DTC (1.09 mm) and 0.64 carats per tonne at 5-DTC (1.83 mm), predicted at an average stone size of 0.1 carats per stone in the latter case.

In addition to the anticipated recovery of average stone sizes for Motete, there is a statistical probability of larger stones, including #3 in the +60-100 carat per stone, #20 in the +30-60 carat per stone and #300 in the +10-30 carat per stone size ranges, per million tonnes.

10:22 - The John Lewis business model is to be held up as the one to emulate by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who will urge more companies to offer shares to their employees on the basis that it will improve productivity and unlock growth.

In a forthcoming speech to the City, Clegg is expected to announce plans to cut red tape, and reform the tax system to accommodate employee ownership in what he will dub "the John Lewis economy".

09:56 - Exillon Energy (EXI) saw its stock slide slightly on Monday as December's production report failed to excite the market.

The oil producer, which has two sites in Russia, said daily average production reached 11,055 barrels per day during the month. In the brief statement, Exillon said it will next report production levels on 15 February.

09:35 - Shares in milk producer Robert Wiseman Dairies (RWD) jumped more than 18% on Monday as the company said turnover and trading for the last 15 weeks has been in line with expectations, boosted by increased volumes at the Co-operative and Tesco (TSCO).

It said sales volumes have continued to grow and an increased store allocation with Aldi from the end of January 2012 has compensated for the end of supplies to Asda.

Wiseman said it will wait to see if prices will recover in February and March, but if the current levels were maintained, profits generated in the last quarter may be hurt unless there was either a compensating reduction in raw milk prices or increased milk selling prices, which are both unlikely to be achieved prior to 1 April.

09:17 - All eyes were on Rockhopper Exploration (RKH) on Monday following press rumours that the company is in talks with oil and gas giants Cairn Energy (CNE) and BP (BP.).

Cairn is considering a move into the Falklands area which could involve a partnership with or the acquisition of Rockhopper, according to an article in The Sunday Times newspaper, which did not cite sources.

For more, read: All eyes on Rockhopper amid Cairn and BP rumours.

09:00 - The FTSE 100 (UKX) looked as if it may have a sluggish start amid plenty of grim news, but it headed into the black very quickly, refusing to track the heavy losses seen in Asia overnight.

London's blue-chip benchmark was three points ahead at 5639 as Morrisons (MRW) was the first big climber of the day.

The picture was not bright for Carnival (CCL), which saw its shares fall 18% as investors responded to the capsizing of its cruise ship the Costa Concordia after it hit rocks in Italy on Friday.

The tragedy, in which at least six people died, is still unfolding off the coast of the Tuscan island of Giglio as rescue teams work to find survivors.

Carnival said it self-insures for loss of use of the vessel. The company carries insurance that covers a number of risks within certain limitations and includes hull and machine insurance, as well as protection and indemnity policies that include crew and passenger injuries, shipwrecks, damage to third parties and pollution.

As part of its financial reporting requirements, the company's statement included confirmation that it has insurance coverage for damage to the vessel with a deductible of approximately $30 million (£19.6 million) as well as insurance for third-party personal injury liability subject to an additional deductible of approximately $10 million for this incident.

For the full story, read: Difficult day for Carnival.

At a glance...

Asian markets

Nikkei 225: 8378 ( 121)

Hang Seng: 19012 ( 192)

Shanghai Composite: 2206 ( 38)


Gold: $1,641.94

WTI crude oil: $99.27


GBP/USD: 1.5295

GBP/EUR: 1.2082

EUR/USD: 1.2661

08:00 - The FTSE 100 (UKX) opens at 5636.64.