London stocks ended on the back foot. Multiple pharmas, commercial and residential property, banks and retailers were at the southbound vanguard as gold eased and crude staged a minor rally after yesterday's torrid time.
Pharma firm Hikma (HIK) led the blue-chip pack with a 3.5% slide to 2150p, followed by Shire (SHP), which tapered 2.47% to 4901p. Meantime, Hammerson (HMSO) led commercial property with a 2.75% fall to 574.25p. House builders eased behind Taylor Wimpey (TW.), down 2.58% to 164.15p.
More in these sectors followed, as did banks in the wake of RBS (RBS), lower 1.56% to 195.5p, and insurers after Direct Line (DLG), off 1.45% to 366.4p. Leisure was lower, as were airlines and multiple high-street retailers after Dixons Carphone (DC.), down 3.3% to 374.3p.
Ex-dividend factors weighed all day. Roughly 71 blue chips were lower, about 34 of these by 1% or more. To the limited upside, utilities were in focus after National Grid (NG.), ahead 1.08% to 1075p, and United Utilities (UU.), up 0.83% to 977p. Consumer goods stocks were ahead, too.
CRH (CRH) has reported sales up 35% to €12.7bn in H1, with EBITDA more than doubling to €1.12bn. It was helped by ongoing strength in the Americas. Interim dividend rose 1.6% to 18.8 euro cents a share. Its shares stole the blue-chip show, rising 2.88% to 2540p.
At 4.53pm, WTI crude was up 0.56% to $47.03/bbl and Brent was up 0.82% to $49.45/bbl. Of the former, support and resistance were broadly seen around $46/bbl and $50/bbl. Gold shed 0.31% to $1325.6/oz, with silver and copper broadly flat. Mining and oil majors receded.
FTSE 100 closed down 18.88 points, or 0.28%, to 6816.9, while FTSE 250 shed 147.65, or 0.82%, to 17,867.0. Same time, Wall St began with faint gains on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite.
Global markets are on tenterhooks ahead of US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen issuing her Jackson Hole speech tomorrow, it following recent hawkish tones from several Fed members. Attentions are focused on the US central bank's likely future interest-rate policy.
Chinese medicine firm Taihua (TAIH) soared 100% to 2.25p on plans to raise money at more than twice yesterday's share price. The price seems deliberately high and a way to get a Chinese shareholder to pay a chunky price to increase their stake to 25.85%.
Alexander Mining (AXM) subsidiary MetaLeach has executed a licence agreement with Accudo Metals, a new Australian company established to exploit Alexander's proprietary leaching technologies. Shares in AXM were up 65.12% to 0.18p.
Strate Aero (AERO) fell 34.38% to 0.53p as raised £370,000 gross via a placing of 74m new shares at 0.5p each. Proceeds would go to working capital, to fund ongoing litigation and expedite development of the company's integrated UAV offering.
Bellzone Mining's (BZM) economic outlook for its Kalia project disappointed investors. The project was arguably not viable to develop at current nickel prices. BZM's shares fell 25.81% to 0.23p.
US initial unemployment claims fell to 261,000 in the week ended Aug. 20, down 1000 on the week, US Department of Labor said. The four-week moving average was 264,000, a decrease of 1,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 265,250.
US working gas in storage rose to 3,350bn cu ft on Aug. 19, US Energy Information Administration estimated. This was up 11bn cu ft on the week. Meantime, the US flash manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 52.1 in August, from 52.9 in July.
US new orders for manufactured durable goods in July rose $9.7bn, or 4.4%, to $228.9bn, US Census Bureau said. Core durable goods rose 1.5% in July, from a 0.3% fall in June.
Bushveld Minerals (BMN), down 12.31% to 1.43p, raised £580,000 for general working capital, but was trading lower due to the placing shares being at a discount to yesterday's close.
Thor Mining (THR), down 7.69% to 0.03p, confirms the start of its aircore drilling campaign designed to test for additional tungsten mineralisation within a 6km radius of its existing Molyhil tungsten deposit in Australia.
Kibo Mining (KIBO) rose 7.5% to 5.38p after signing an agreement with Chinese contractor SEPCO III, allowing it to earn the right to become the sole bidder for the EPC contract to build the power plant component of Kibo's project.
OptiBiotix (OPTI), down 5.41% to 70p, has widened its H1 pretax loss to £0.7m, from a loss of £0.5m. Revenue was just £88,252, from nil. Administrative expenses figured heavily in both periods.
IFG Group (IFP), down 4.21% to 176.25p, has reported a solid H1 performance but saw uncertain market conditions ahead. Luxury shoemaker Jimmy Choo (CHOO), up 4.88% to 123.5p, was in the spotlight and trading 6.7% higher as h1 results revealed sales growth and margin expansion.
Franco Manco and Real Greek restaurants operator The Fulham Shore (FUL) advanced 3.36% to 19.25p on news that four new outlets would open in its current financial year and trials for home delivery with Deliveroo were 'encouraging'.
Online gambling technology group Playtech (PTEC), up 3.17% to 928p, was in positive territory after rewarding investors with a 57c (40p) special dividend on top of a 46c (40p) normal dividend. Playtech saw net profit increase by 84% at constant currency rates.
Vitesse Media (VIS), down 2.94% to 4.13p, has substantially reduced its H1 pretax loss to £69m, from a loss of £125m. Directors were confident the company would return to profit this financial year.
Scottish media company STV (STVG), up 1.37% to 371.63p, boosted its operating profit by nearly a third, driven by high margin revenue activities of digital and regional airtime, prompting a 33% hike in the interim dividend to 4p per share.
Construction group Henry Boot (BHY) was up 0.31% to 205.63p after it posted a strong H1 pre-tax profit, up 48.6%, with trading since the Brexit vote proceeding as envisaged.