StockMarketWire | 20/02/2017 - 21:30
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The FTSE 100 index struggled as PG Tips owner Unilever (ULVR) continued to weigh throughout the day after it turned down a bid from US rival Kraft Foods.

Pharmaceutical stocks were also weak as AstraZeneca (AZN) and Shire (SHP) fell by 0.8%.

The housebuilding sector was dragged down by disappointing results from Bovis Homes (BVS), which fell 8%. It reported a decline in pre-tax profit and operating margins, and said it is targeting 10% to 15% fewer property completions in 2017.

Its peers Berkeley (BKG) and Crest Nicholson (CRST) were marked lower on the bad news.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil were $53.63 and $56 per barrel, respectively.

Gold was flat at $1,237 per ounce and copper rallied over 1% to $6,040 per tonne.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 closed more or less unchanged on Friday. Neither stock market is open on Monday as the US is celebrating President's Day.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 was flat despite shares in Samsung Electronics recovering some ground after its boss Lee Jae-Yong was arrested.

In China, the SSE Composite jumped 1.2% and the Hang Seng was up 0.5%.


Natwest owner Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) benefitted from news that it may not have to spin out Williams & Glyn to meet its remaining state aid obligations.


Interserve (IRV) collapsed by 25% to 251.6p after making new provisions for contract issues on its exited energy from waste business. It raised the amount from £70m to £160m which might not be enough, warned investment bank Liberum.

Investors were excited about an update concerning Beowulf Mining's (BEM) applications for an exploitation concession for its Kallak North project in Sweden. Over the weekend the chief mining inspector said she hoped to provide to provide clarity this week. Despite the company warning 'there can be no guarantee as to when or if any award will be made', the stock soared 30%.

The market was disappointed that medical imaging software firm Feedback (FDBK) only gained a 'modest' contribution from its TexRAD software. Despite expecting a substantial increase in revenue for the software in the second half of the year, the shares slumped 8.5%.

Engineer Hayward Tyler (HAYT) declined 6.6% after downgrading its full year earnings guidance as a result of contract delays.