FTSE bogged down by ex-divs after Wall St falls
London stocks were bogged down by ex-dividends after overnight falls on Wall St after the US Federal Open Market Committee's hawkish minutes last night, with metals and crude prices tending down.
A little while after the open, the FTSE 100 was down 68.63 points, or 0.94%, to 7263.05, and the FTSE 250 was down 105.1, or 0.55%, to 18,964.2. Gold, silver and copper were falling, as were WTI and Brent crude. Sterling was up a jot on the dollar, but trading sideways.
Key equities indicies in Europe were also firmly down.
Pearson (PSON) was down a hefty 7.62% to 630.5p as it went ex-dividend, with fellow ex-div Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) following and down 4.02% to 62.86p. Other ex-div blue-chip fallers included GKN (GKN), St James's Place (STJ) and Paddy Power Betfair (PPB), off 2.3%-3.92%.
Other sectors prominent amont top-100 index fallers were supermarkets behind Sainsbury (SBRY), lower 1.76% to 251.8p, insurers after Prudential (PRU), down 1.36% to 1654.75p, and pharmas following Astrazeneca (AZN), down 1.33% to 4793p.
Ex-div Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK), down 0.21% to 1928p, has entered into a settlement agreement with Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which resolved patent litigation related to the latter company's Xyrem (sodium oxybate) oral solution, 500mg/mL product.
To the upside just 16 blue chips made gains, commercial property followed Land Securities (LAND), up 1.54% to 1087.5p, and British Land (BLND), up 1.33% to 630.25p. While general miners were mixed, gold specialists were led by Fresnillo (FRES), up 1.21% to 1593p.
Some utilities also made gains. National Grid (NG.) rose 0.44% to 1017p, and United Utilities (UU.) added 0.1% to 993.5p. Unilever (ULVR), up 0.91% to 3975.25p, has outlined actions and targets after a review of the business, among them aiming for a 20% underlying operating margin, before restructuring, by 2020. It also planned to lift its dividend by 12%.
EasyJet (EZJ), down 0.44% to 1012.5p, carried 6.33m passengers in March, up 10.6% on a year ago. Load factor was 92.7%, up from 91.3% in March 2016. On a 12-month rolling basis, the airline carried 75.93m passengers, up 7.3%. Load factor was 91.7%, up from 91.5%.
Other stocks going ex-dividend included Costain (COST), Next (NXT), Moneysupermarket (MONY), Rentokil Initial (RTO), DS Smith (SMDS), Wood Group (WG.), Wolseley (WOS) and Melrose (MRO).
Provexis (PXS), up 20.37% to 0.65p, has entered into a MoU with By-Health Co Ltd with a view to a research and collaboration agreement for Fruitflow. It and DSM Nutritional Products were working with By-Health on a planned launch of some Fruitflow-based products in the Chinese market.
MySQUAR (MYSQ), up 19.44% to 1.08p, has announced the issue of 50.5m shares pursuant to the conversion of $450,000 of loan notes by Sandabel Capital LP. The company said it was also reviewing its financing options.
Hardide (HDD) rose 17.07% to 1.2p after stating overall trading was comfortably ahead of both H1 and H1 of the last financial year. Directors expected the FY trading performance to be in line with market expectations.
Blur Group (BLUR) rose 11.11% to 15p after it said a UK County Council was continuing its programme of spend that could lead to a multiple six-figure roll out of the company's Indirect Spend management platform.
Weatherly International (WTI), down 11.54% to 0.58p, has noted reduced copper cathode output at Tschudi for the March 2017 quarter, with the 3236 tonnes produced being 24% below nameplate. It revised production guidance to 14,500-15,000 tonnes for the year to June 2017.
Griffin Mining (GFM), up 9.32% to 64.5p, has swung into the black in the year to end-December, posting a pre-tax profit of $10.4m, from a loss $940,000 last time. Revenues rose to $66.3m, from $59.8m.
Greka Drilling (GDL), up 7.41% to 2.9p, has been declared the winner, subject to contract, of a three-year integrated drilling contract by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd for its Bokaro CBM asset in India.
Murgitroyd (MUR), up 4.52% to 405p, confirmed the underlying trading result for Q3 was much improved on the H1 performance and ahead of revised internal forecasts for the period.
Ferrexpo (FXPO), down 3.74% to 167.2p, total pellet production fell to 2,624 thousand tonnes in the first quarter - down from 2887 thousand tonnes a year ago.
Gresham House Strategic (GHS), up 2.12% to 842.5p, intended to pay a first dividend, under its strategic public equity strategy, of 15p a share. It was also to undertake a share buyback, which, with the dividend, would represent half of its profit from recent realisations.
Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP), up 1.47% to 121p, said its FY after-tax losses fell to $17.4m, down from $214.0m in 2015. HomeServe (HSV), up 1.5% to 575p, has reported strong momentum in the business and said it expected results for the year ended 31 March to be at the upper end of market forecasts.
Other stocks in the news included Petra Diamonds (PDL), Victrex (VCT), Electrocomponents (ECM), Corero Network Security (CNS), Park Group (PKG), Cairn Energy (CNE), SysGroup (SYS) and MySale Group (MYSL).