Shares in RBS jumped on Friday after the company beat forecasts with its first-quarter results as pre-tax profits doubled. Analysts, however, chose to remain cautious on the outlook for the UK bank.
Resolution's share price was making gains on Friday after Credit Suisse upgraded the stock from 'underperform' to 'neutral', saying that it sees a 'greater balance of risk and opportunity' ahead of the insurer's first-quarter update next week.
Severn Trent investors have reasons to be annoyed after the water company's performance since rejecting a takeover bid, Danny Fortson argued in the Sunday Times. In his Inside the City column, Fortson said Severn's shares are almost a fifth lower than the 22 pounds offered by overseas investors a year ago. New Chief Executive Liv Garfield has a difficult job because the industry regulator has said price rises will be limited. With Deutsche Bank predicting falling profits and a small dividend cut next year, some investors may not be in the mood to celebrate.
Premier Oil has rejected two takeover approaches from Ophir Energy, the Sunday Times reported. The most recent proposal by Ophir was an all-share deal that was unanimously rejected by Premier's board two weeks ago. The companies are likely to inform the market about the talks on April 28th following the papers' report. Ophir made its first approach in February within days of Premier announcing that its Chief Executive, Simon Lockett, was stepping down. A source close to Premier said the board rejected Ophir's overtures because a deal lacked "strategic fit" and was not in shareholders' interests. It is unclear whether talks will resume.
AMEC: UBS ups target price from 1145p to 1200p maintaining a neutral rating.
Berenberg has said that Legal & General remains its 'preferred play' in the life insurance sector following the recent major shake-up of the annuity and savings markets in the UK.
1630: Close It was another negative finish in the City on Tuesday as concerns about Ukraine, mixed corporate news, and disappointing data from across the globe. UK inflation fell to 1.6 per cent in March from 1.7 per cent a month earlier, while retail sales fell by 1.7 per cent in like-for-like terms. China's broadest measure of new credit fell 19 per cent in March from a year earlier and money supply grew at the slowest pace since 2001. Company wise, defensive stocks performed well while typically volatile mining stocks were firmly in the red. Over in Eastern Europe, it was being reported that Ukraine has said Russian forces have entered the country. The FTSE 100 closed down 42.15 points at 6,541.61.
1630: Close UK stocks once again finished in the red, dragged by insurers and financials, while Sports Direct also weighed particularly heavily. Rising tensions in Ukraine also weighed on sentiment. Back in the UK industrial production grew by 0.9 per cent in February and by another 2.7 per cent year-on-year. Meanwhile, Britain's biggest banks have so far paid around 600m pounds for mis-selling interest rate hedging products, the FCA revealed today. The FTSE 100 ended the session 32.15 points lower at 6,590.69.
Sporting goods retailer Sports Direct sunk sharply after it was reported that Founder Mike Ashley is selling 200m pounds-worth of shares, taking his stake from 62 per cent to 58 per cent.
The Financial Conduct Authority ignored Bank of England warnings that it had created a false market in insurance shares for more than five hours, the Sunday Times writes. A newspaper report that the FCA planned a clampdown on insurance policies going back up to 30 years caused shares of Legal & General, Resolution and others to plunge on March 28th. The office of Andrew Bailey, the BoE's chief prudential regulator, called the FCA repeatedly after 09:00 but the FCA did not clarify its plans until 14:30.
Insurance groups RSA, Resolution and Aviva all made decent gains, bucking the trend of recent times, hit by both the Budget statement and the Financial Conduct Authority's plans to review old insurance policies.
British Sky Broadcasting's share price took a knock on Thursday after analysts at HBSC said that the recent rally suggests that 'significant risks' are being overlooked.
Associated British Foods: Citi increases target price from 2350p to 3000p, while its neutral rating remains unchanged.
Canaccord Genuity has lowered its target price for financial services and closed life insurer Resolution from 375p to 300p and retained its 'hold' recommendation, saying that the group needs a new strategy following the 2014 Budget.
1530: US factory orders rose 1.6 per cent to 488.8bn dollars in February, according to the US Department of Commerce, ahead of the 1.3 per cent that had been forecast and bouncing back from a one per cent decrease in January.
Aberdeen Asset Management: Canaccord Genuity reduces target price from 540p to 460p, while its buy recommendation is kept.
Stocks extend three-week high; ECB, US data ahead; Antofagasta unharmed by Chile quake; Sports Direct extends gains on expansion potential.
Markets flat ahead of ECB, US data; Antofagasta operations unaffected by Chile quake; Domino's, ASOS impress with results.
ECB under pressure to move on rates, Stocks erase gains but near three-week highs, Babcock gains on nuclear contract, Anglo, Rio lead miners higher after Credit Suisse comments
1630:Close UK stocks finished the session slightly lower as investors tread cautiously ahead of a raft of important economic indicators which were still due out over the course of the week and Thursday's ECB policy meeting. Chief amongst the above is Friday's US non-farm payrolls report. Babcock led gains after announcing that the Cavendish Fluor consortium has been named as the preferred bidder for a multi-billion pound nuclear site de-commissioning contract. UK house prices rose by 0.6 per cent over the month in February. FTSE 100 down 17 to 6,598.