1630:Close UK shares ended the session lower despite a massive £47bn buy-out offer from Royal Dutch Shell for BG Group. The deal got a cool reception from markets, with stock in BG ending the day at 1,153p, well off from the 1,350p a share price at which the offer valued it - for a stonking 50% premium. The news drew sceptical remarks from analyst Neill Morton at Investec. He wrote to clients saying that: "The deal is predicated on a strong recovery in oil prices ($90/bl from 2018), while we suspect that Shell is pouncing on BG's imminent free cash flow to protect its burdensome dividend payout." Acting as a backdrop, traders were wary ahead of the release of the minutes of the US Federal Reserve's last policy meeting on 17 and 18 March. Crude futures ended with a sharp decline. FTSE 100 down 24 points to 6,937.41.
On Wednesday morning Friends Life issued a statement saying its stock should not trade ex-dividend ahead of the 9 April Scheme Record Time and Friends Life Dividend Record Date.
Oil major Shell was making gains after being given the green light by the US government to restart an exploration campaign in the Alaskan Arctic.
The partnership structure created by insurance group Friends Life has sold nearly £164m of shares in UK insurer Aviva, according to a report by Reuters on Tuesday.
Shares in British engineering giant Weir Group rose on the back of market chatter that a cash-rich private equity consortium in the US is looking to table a 2,500p per share break-up offer for the group, compared with current prices at around 1,800p.
Details of the European Central Bank's (ECB) quantitative easing package helped the FTSE 100 to another record close on Thursday, with financial stocks making solid gains by the end of the session.
Insurers Aviva and Friends Life Group (FLG) each jumped over 7% on Thursday as investors celebrated the companies' 2014 results ahead of the proposed merger, giving the life insurance sector a big boost in London.
Ahead of its proposed takeover by larger peer Aviva, insurance group Friends Life Group (FLG) smashed expectations with its 2014 results on Thursday as profits surged and cash generation exceeded guidance.
UK stocks gains on Thursday with decent gains by insurers Aviva and Friends Life offsetting weakness in the mining sector, as investors took an optimistic approach ahead of a much-anticipated central bank decision in Europe.
William Hill was forced to release its latest trading statement 11 hours earlier than planned after an administrative error, The Telegraph reported. According to the paper, the bookmaker officially sent out the figures, which showed that profits fell 7% in the fourth quarter, at 8pm on Monday, after the update was accidentally emailed to analysts.
Insurance company Aviva said it could cut 1,500 jobs following its £5.93bn planned takeover of Friends Life.
EnQuest is cutting spending, jobs and pay in an effort to avoid breaking the terms of its bank loans, the Sunday Times reported. The biggest independent UK North Sea oil producer's shares have fallen 80% since last summer as the price of crude oil collapsed. Investors took fright because of the company's high costs and debts. Chief Executive Amjad Beisu will announce aggressive cost reductions in January to stop the company from breaking loan covenants. Wood Group and Petrofac, two of EnQuest's biggest suppliers, have helped by cutting contractor pay and making rates 20% lower.
Mitie's shares have fallen but not as fast as those of outsourcing rivals such as Serco and Balfour Beatty, Danny Fortson pointed out in the Sunday Times. Matthew Earl, a former City analyst who writes a blog, criticised Mitie for buying companies to compensate for its own slow progress and for the way it recognises revenue. Mitie rejects Earl's analysis but he has highlighted concern about the way the sector accounts for "adjusted" operating profit. The City is increasingly willing to listen to lone critics but most investors believe Mitie is a well-run company, the Inside the City columnist concluded.
Supermarket stocks were under pressure on Friday, with Tesco in particular pulling back after a 15% surge the previous session, following the announcement of its turnaround plan and resilient Christmas sales.
Markets rose on Friday as US non-farm payrolls beat consensus expectations while the unemployment rate came in lower than projected.
Charles Stanley has lifted its stance on insurance firm Friends Life Group (FLG), saying it sees limited downside after recent falls in the stock.
Shore Capital has welcomed new measures by Tesco to "crank up the customer service" ahead of Christmas, suggesting that competition from the rival discounters may be waning.
Ashtead Group: Berenberg raises target price from 1170p to 1345p and keeps its 'buy' recommendation.
Following reports the Vodafone (VOD) is exploring a possible combination with Liberty Global, UBS has said the UK telecoms group may have to wait until its shares rise before undertaking such a sizeable deal.
Shore Capital has raised questions with Aviva's £5.6bn takeover of Friends Life, after the companies announced the details of the all-share bid on Tuesday.