Market mired as financials and oil giants hit sentiment
TOP flight shares struggled for direction as oil firms and financial services groups weighed on the London market.
The FTSE 100 Index fell 17.03 points to 6182.40, recovering from being almost 70 points down earlier in the session amid a turbulent start to the year dominated by commodity price falls and fears of a slowdown in China.
Germany’s Dax and the Cac 40 in France were also both down by around 0.5 per cent.
The pound was flat against the US dollar at just under 1.43, despite strong American jobs figures on Friday which saw the US economy add 242,000 new jobs in February.
Sterling was slightly higher against the euro at 1.29.
One of the biggest risers in the top flight was financial services giant Old Mutual, up 7 per cent or 12.4p to 192.1p, after confirming it was carrying out a strategic review which would consider breaking up the business.
Weekend reports had said it was looking at a sale of its wealth management arm, Old Mutual Wealth, valued at around £ 3bn.
Old Mutual said :“We can confirm that all options for the strategic review are being considered but no decision has yet been made.”
Shore Capital analyst Eamonn Flanagan said: “We believe that such
a disposal or demerger of Old Mutual Wealth is a distinct possibility.”
However, a number of miners rose after trading lower earlier in the day as a range of commodity prices lifted during the session.
Glencore up 10.8 pat was
170.8p, Anglo American was 36.1p higher to 628.1p and Antofagasta lifted 42p to 5921/ 2p.
Brent crude oil prices lifted 3 percent to just under 40 US dollars a barrel; however oil prices remain some 70 per cent below their peak in the summer of 2014.
Also, ratings agency Fitch said oil prices would remain at an average of 35 US dollars a barrel this year.
Royal Dutch Shell slipped 71/ 2p
to 16771/ 2p, while BP was 2.4p lower at 365.6p.
Financial services groups were also lower, with RSA Insurance down 9.1p to 439.6p and Provi
dent Financial 62p lower at 3198p. Advertising group WPP said it bought a majority stake in UK digital marketing agency Potato for an undisclosed sum.
Potato specialises in designing and building complex, secure and scalable web applications, WPP said, and has clients including Google and Canon.
The purchase comes after WPP said on Friday that its 2015 pre- tax profits rose 2.8 per cent to are cord £1.5 bn, buoyed by revenue growth in its US businesses. Shares in WPP lifted 17p to close at 1548p.
E ls where, the long-awaited report by the Competition and Markets Authority ( CMA) into retail banking will be delayed by another three months, after the watchdog unveiled an extra set of proposals to help customers with unauthorised overdrafts. The CMA has suggested a range of new remedies that include a monthly cap on fees and extending the period between dropping from an authorised into an unauthorised over draft. The body said the deadline for its report is now August, after first launching a formal inquiry into the market in November 2014.
The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 index were Antofagasta up
2p, Old Mutual up 42 pat 5921/ 12.4p to 192.1p ,Gl encore up 10.8p at 170.8p and Anglo American up 36.1p at 628.1p.
The biggest fallers in the FTSE 100 index were Rand gold Resources down 200p at 6415p, Worldpay down 8.2p at 292p, Whitbread down 81p at 3722p and RSA Insurance down 9.1p at 439.6p.