FTSE 100 little changed despite support for utilities


Footsie is stuck in neutral, despite the normally “reassuringly boring” utilities stocks having a good morning.

National Grid (LON:NG.), United Utilities (LON:UU.) and SSE (LON:SSE) all show an uncharacteristically fleet turn of foot, up a percentage point or two.

Also on the upturn is Aggreko (LON:AGK) after an encouraging trading update from the temporary power provider. The share price jumped 4% in early deals to 1,570p after the group said it made an “encouraging start to the year” but has since powered down to 1,540p, up 2% on the day.

Results from aerospace engineer GKN (LON:GKN) also got the thumbs-up. The shares are up 1.4% after GKN’s first quarter profit rose 22%.

Royal Mail (LON:RMG) is the best performer, with investors moving back in after the shake-out last week. The lock-up period for the government expired on Sunday, meaning Vince Cable now has a decision to make on whether or not to sell the remaining 30% stake in the postal service.

At the bottom end of the Footsie sits security firm G4S (LON:GFS) after Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock to ‘sell’ from ‘hold’ and trimmed the target price to 210p from 221p.

Mining giant Rio Tinto’s first quarter iron ore production fell short of expectations, while shipments were affected by bad weather in the Pilbara region in Western Australia. The shares are down 1.6%.

SABMiller (LON:SAB), brewer of lager, lager and more lager, is another blue-chip dragging the index down. It sheds 1.3% after an underwhelming fourth quarter update.

FTSE 100 is up 3 at 6,587.

Away from the top flight, Providence Resources (LON:PVR) leaps 11% to just over 200p following a media report claiming the oil explorer is close to securing a US$300mln investment.

The group, run by Tony O’Reilly Jr, has been sounding out potential industry partners to invest in the Barryroe field in the Celtic Sea off the south coast of Ireland.

Providence has an 80% stake in the field as the operator, while Lansdowne Oil & Gas (LON:LOGP), up 27%, owns the remaining 20%.

Other AIM risers include Tangiers Petroleum (LON:TPET), up 4%, as it appointed oil and gas analyst David Wall as its new managing director.

The 39-year-old brings with him specialist knowledge of Africa-focused junior explorers and also a good understanding of the capital markets, having helped companies raise over US$300mln.

On the downside, Aureus Mining’s (LON:AUE TSX:AUE) is off the pace, down 2.2p to 27.3p, after it raised US$26mln through a placing of shares at 27p a throw. Of that US$26mln, US$11.1mln will be stumped up by the IFC, the investment arm of the World Bank.

The money will help fund exploration of the deposits that surround Aureus’s flagship New Liberty gold mine development and other licences in its portfolio.

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