1630:Close The City ended on a downbeat note today, as banks and G4S dragged, multiple big names went ex-dividend, and the situation in Ukraine rumbled on. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk met with US President Barack Obama in Washington ahead of the looming Crimea referendum on March 16th on whether or not to split from Ukraine and join Russia. Back in the UK, minimum wage has been increased to 6.50 pounds, up 19p from its previous level. The FTSE 100 ended the day 64.62 points lower at 6,620.90 - a decline of 91.77 on the week so far.
1548: Following today's results out of Kenmare Resources analysts at Westhouse Securities wrote that the lower debt repayments due in August 2015, together with the likelihood for improved operations as power supply and post-expansion teething issues are resolved, and an anticipated uplift in prices during this fiscal year suggest Kenmare is undervalued at current levels.
1547: Prudential is making a run at its most recent highs, towards 1,390p, on the back of its most recent results.
1511: Analysts at Jefferies told clients this morning that they are still concerned that an enterprise value-to-sales ratio of close to three for Ocado "places too much confidence on the group's ability to replicate its domestic success elsewhere." They also point out that the lack of European pure plays "has served Ocado shareholders well in recent times." FTSE 100 down 48 to 6,638.
1451: "Which brings us back to Ocado's business model, the total failure to generate profits and still a derisory returns through centralised fulfilment of multi-temperature products to a fragmented customer base [...] We remain convinced that this model will not work [...]" wrote analysts at Shore Capital this morning.
1430: Activity in Centrica's upstream gas and oil businesses has stabilised, Credit Suisse thinks. That comes after weakness over the last four months drove some EPS downgrades from analysts, they explain. Factors behind said stabilisation include: a shift towards cheaper Canadian production which reduces per unit 'opex', European 'capex' cuts and greater stability in gas and oil prices. Hence they now see free cash flow yield improving towards circa 15 per cent this year, from about 2 per cent last year.
1429: In a note to clients Credit Suisse says that only the UK offers upside to power prices. In the same piece of research they tell clients to "avoid" UK water.
1153: Shares of Poundland, which was reserved for institutional investors, are up by 27 per cent on their stock market debut while shares
of Pets at Home are just about unchanged at 244.25p, after having initially dipped lower. At 300p stock in Poundland began trading at a price-to-sales ratio of about 0.85m versus around 1.08 for US peer Dollar General.
1135: African Barrick Gold is now trading down just 0.8 per cent at 248p, having fallen as low as 229p early on. The stock sank 17 per cent yesterday after parent company Barrick Gold trimmed its stake; however the sell-off has created a buying opportunity, according to Canaccord Genuity, given that the 'magnitude of the price drop was exacerbated by the profit taking' after its recent strong run. The broker said that Barrick Gold is unlikely to dispose of its entire remaining 63.9 per cent stake in order to improve its cost profile which 'reduces the overhang risk from the remaining stake'.
1118: Aviva's Chief Financial Officer Pat Regan will be stepping down on March 28th. He will be succeeded by Tom Stoddard. Turkish lira now off slightly versus the US dollar, by 0.11 per cent to 0.445. FTSE 100 down 66 to 6,619.
0953: Insurance giant Prudential is in positive territory after reporting a 17 per cent rise in operating profit and a 15 per cent increase in the full-year dividend after a 'strong performance in 2013'. Security solutions provider G4S, however, has failed to impress with its 2013 results after an 'extremely challenging year', during which underlying earnings per share declined by seven per cent. The FTSE 100 is down 55.88 at 6,629.64.
0915: UK retailers Poundland and Pets at Home are being closely watched today as conditional trading for both stocks starts today, with both pricing their IPOs at the top of their expected ranges. Poundland jumped instantly in early conditional trading, while Pets at Home fell, but was still within the indicative price range set out by the company. 'Taken together, both IPO debuts will be seen as a success, as retail investors were given the opportunity to be involved in the IPOs. Both these companies are consumer facing, so highly popular in the UK,' said Market Strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital. The FTSE 100 is down 64.25 at 6,621.27.
0830: UK stocks gave begun the day moderately lower following the negative close to trading seen overnight on Wall Street. Further weighing on sentiment, the debt of a second Chinese solar company, Baoding Tianwei Baobian, was suspended from trading. Shaghai's main equity benchmark is now lower by 0.17 per cent. To take note of both Poundland and Pets at Home began trading today, after pricing their respective flotations at the upper-end of markets' expectations. Shares of Pets at Home were down by almost five per cent in early trades. Today will be light in terms of the macroeconomic news-flow after ONS delayed the release of its latest numbers on external trade. British American Tobacco, Meggitt, Hammerson and Standard Chartered will today trade without the attraction of their latest dividend payments. FSTE 100 down 46 to 6,639.