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UK shares dragged lower by broad sell-off

London shares closed lower on Friday, as gains proved elusive when a broad-based decline among stocks in metals, mining, and forestry took hold
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EasyJet shares rise as talk of takeover swirls above

London shares closed lower on Friday, as gains proved elusive when a broad-based decline among stocks in metals, mining, and forestry took hold.

The FTSE 100 blue-chip index started the session lower and apart from one point mid-afternoon when it came within a hair’s breadth of levelling with Thursday’s close, it remained in the doldrums all session. The FTSE 100 ended the week around 60 points lower than where it began on Monday.

Biggest losers included Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN), which lost 3.61% to 189.13p, Taylor Wimpey PLC (LON:TW. declined 2.3% to end at 153.72 and BHP Billiton plc (LON:BLT) shed 0.75% to 1066.93p.

EasyJet (LON:EZJ) shares, up 2.13% to 1,100.92p, were the second-biggest riser on FTSE 100 the index, with traders citing reports that it could be a target for US leasing company AerCap (NYSE:AER). Only Lloyds Banking Group (LON:LLOY) was above it, up 2.5% at 55.24p.

The FTSE 250 index of mid-caps ended flat at 17,874 – marginally outperforming the blue-chips.

In the FTSE 250, William Hill (LON:WMH) shares rose 3.2% to 312.68p after it raised its full-year profit outlook. The bookmaker said 2016 operating profits would be at the higher end of its previous guidance of £260m;n-£280mln.

William Hill’s comments, issued late on Thursday, came shortly after Rank (LON:RNK) and 888 (LON:888) abandoned their attempt to merge with the bookmaker in a complex three-way tie-up. The two companies said they had not been able to "meaningfully engage" with William Hill's board. Rank shares closed up 1.85% at 225.70p and 888 shares ended up 4.7% at 214.68p.

The FTSE AIM 100 Index was up 0.2% at 3,747 and the FTSE AIM All-Share Index gained 0.3% to 786.

Gainers in London pipped losers with 30% of the market’s stocks higher, 29% lower and 40% unchanged.

Top gainer was Harvest Minerals (LON:HMI) up 56% to 23.35p while the biggest faller of 45% to 1.3p was AEC Education (LON:AEC). AEC Education, a provider of educational services in Europe and Far East Asia, said it had posted its Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2015 and as a result of the publication the company is readmitted to trade on the AIM exchange on Friday.


Midsession

London’s top-share index is heading for a drab end to the week, with financials and house builders leading the Footsie lower.

The FTSE 100 was down 17 points at 6,852.

While the likes of Standard Chartered PLCPrudential PLC and Legal & General Group weigh down the financials sector and Persimmon PLC – ahead of results next week – and Taylor Wimpey PLC do likewise to the house building sector, there has been precious little news flow from blue-chips to get investors excited.

It was left to the small caps this morning to get the pulse racing, with Baron Oil PLC (LON:BOIL) coming to the boil after it revealed an amendment to the terms of a loan and option agreement it has with Infrastrata PLC (LON:INFA).

The shares were the top risers in London, advancing 29% to 0.55p, while Infrastrata’s shares jumped 15% to 1.35p.

Shares in StratMin Global Resources PLC (LON:STGR) rose by a third in early deals as investors looked forward to the pending completion of a A$15.25mln asset sale.

A bit of profit taking set in later on, leaving the shares up by a quarter.

A trading update lifted shares of Immedia Group PLC (LON:IME), the supplier of digital audio content.

It was a case of good news/bad news for the company that provides background music for retailers, with the group announcing its contract with Arcadia will expire and then cheering investors with the revelation that it is seeing a larger number of franchisees take up its SUBWAY radio service.

Shares rose 9% to 36.5p.

A profit warning initially wiped out half the value of the shares of CCTV on buses specialist 21st Century Technologies PLC (LON:C21), but the shares have recovered a bit to 1.625p, down 32% on the day.

Health & safety consultants PHSC PLC (LON:PHSC) has raised £350,000 through a placing of shares at 22p each, prompting market makers to slice 2p from the share price at 25p.


Snapshot at 8.15am

The FTSE 100 was muted this morning, with London's blue chip index down just over 1 point to 6,867.

The top winner was easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ) up 2% to 1,100p. An extension of a partnership with Amadeus earlier this week strengthened the airline’s evolving growth strategy.

The biggest loser was Provident Financial PLC (LON:PFG), down 1.25% to 2,849p.

News:


Preview at 6.56am

Summer paralysis appears to have set in with the FTSE 100 set to open in subdued mood.

The index of blue chip shares is slated to lose 5 points at the opening bell to 6,863.96 – leaving it stranded tantalisingly just below the 7,000 level most analyst thought at the start of the week it would breach.

In all honesty, there are few drivers, let a alone positive drivers, to propel the Footsie forward.

Wall Street was becalmed with movements miniscule and volumes light. The Dow Jones fell 0.1%, the tech-focused NASDAQ was unchanged, while the S&P 500 rose 0.2%.

In Asia the picture mixed, although the movements too were minor with Japan’s Nikkei 225 oscillating gently between positive and negative territory.

At 6.40am it was up 0.2%, recouping losses inflicted by the strengthening yen. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng lost 0.3%, as were Shanghai quoted shares were also down.

Equity markets were given a little shot in the arm as it emerged that OPEC has finally ready to hold talks over the world over-supply of oil.

Brent ticked up a cent in early trade to US$50.90, after advancing 2% on Thursday.

*Gold US$1.20 higher at US$1,352.40.

*Pound worth US$1.31.

City Headlines

*Rumour: Canadian pension fund, thought to be Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, approached Lloyd’s of London insurer Lancashire Holdings before Britain’s referendum on leaving the European Union about taking the company private – Daily Mail.

*A whistle blower who helped to expose false accounting at Deutsche Bank has turned down a multimillion-dollar award from the Securities and Exchange Commission in protest against the agency’s failure to punish executives at the bank – Times.

*The City is pushing for a bespoke Brexit deal amid rising fears that maintaining full access to the EU single market will be impossible – Telegraph.


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