Banks buckle under lower rates

Big banks Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Barclays (BARC) both slumped over 3% as long-term market interest rates fell following an earlier rally this week. The FTSE 100 struggled to gain positive momentum, closing 0.3% lower.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil gained 0.6% to $51.36 and Brent crude oil advanced 0.4% to $54.15 per barrel, respectively.

Gold continued its rally, rising 0.7% to $1,175 per ounce and copper was 0.6% at $5,776 per tonne.

Unemployment in the US fell from 4.9% in October to 4.6% in November, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate stood at a nine-year low.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

There was good news from the UK house building sector as pre-tax profits rose by more than a third in the first half of the year at Berkeley (BKG). The group unveiled plans for more share buybacks in a bid to prop up its share price, which softened following the Brexit vote.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Smartphone components maker Laird (LRD) said it needs £185m of emergency funding in the first quarter of next year to get its debt under control. It also revealed it will axe its final dividend for this year as it struggled with falling demand for its various electronic kits, causing its shares to slump nearly 9%.

Intellectual property group Allied Minds (ALM) raised £64m, which is around 8.1% of its issued share capital prior to the placing. The early-stage life sciences and technology investor says it placed the shares at 367p per share, a modest 2.2% discount to its closing price on Thursday. The news dragged the stock lower to 372p.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

A stark warning on the rising cost of raw materials struck fear into investors of building materials supplier James Halstead (JHD), despite reassuring news on cash flow and dividends.

Smartphone security minnow Defenx (DFX) launched its parental controls tool kit into Ukranian and other eastern European markets after it sealed a distribution agreement. It secured 75,000 pre-orders, prompting the stock to soar 25.7% to 92.4p.

Prospex Oil and Gas (PXOG) reported its well driving plan was approved by the Polish Miming Authority to drill the Boleslaw-1 well, triggering a share price jump of 21%.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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