FTSE falls ahead of ECB speech

Interest rates were in the spotlight ahead of the European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi’s press conference.

Utility stocks were down, with the latter generally struggling when interest rates rise.

It indicated that traders expect Draghi to play down the need for lower rates amid a recovery in the Eurozone economy.

Overall the FTSE 100 was down 0.6%.

The pound strengthened by 0.5% against the dollar to $1.23.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil jumped 0.9% to $51.52 and $54.42 per barrel, respectively.

Gold cheapened 0.6% to $1,204 per ounce and copper was flat at $5,754 per tonne.

The S&P 500 index closed 0.2% higher, while the Dow Jones nudged into the red, with oil corporation Exxon and telecommunications firm Verizon among the top losers.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.9% to 19,072. Both Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and Shanghai’s SSE Composite closed in negative territory.

FTSE 100 RISER AND FALLERS

UK mail delivery service Royal Mail (RMG) was the biggest blue chip faller as revenue dipped marginally over the festive period, encompassed by its third quarter. Chief executive Moya Greene maintained that earnings for the year to 31 March 2017 will be in line with analyst forecasts.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Price comparison site Moneysupermarket (MONY) was up 6% to 321p as a pre-close update revealed revenue up 20% in the final quarter of 2016.

Puppy treats pusher Pets at Home (PETS) disappointed as it flagged ‘softer-than-anticipated’ retail sales, which was offset by growth in vet services and online sales.

Online retailer N Brown (BWNG) rose 7.7% after revealing double digit growth in its ladies wear range. This helped online sales rise by 12% and comprised 70% of total sales.

Bike retailer Halfords (HFD) reported solid trading in the 15 weeks to 13 January, resulting in a declaration of a special dividend of 10p a share. Like-for-like sales were 5.9% higher, driven by more demand for child seats.

Miner Acacia Mining (ACA) smashed previous guidance with record full year production of 829,705 ounces of gold. Unfortunately, the poor performance of its Buzwagi mine and a weaker gold price dragged the stock lower.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

A profit warning at printing business St Ives (SIV) caused the stock to crash 37.5% to 79p. It blamed various project cancellations and deferrals in the last quarter of the current financial year.

Greatland Gold (GGP) confirmed gold mineralisation at its Ernest Giles project in Western Australia, triggering a 20% rise in its share price to 0.22p.

Geotechnical contractor Van Elle (VANL) suffered a 12.8% hit in its share price as investors honed in on an 8.1% decline in operating profit, due to higher overhead investment.

The market was frustrated by oil and gas explorer’s Frontera Resources (FRR) delays in completing in completing a new six well stimulation program as it waited for additional pumping equipment.

Powerhouse Energy (PHE) raised £250,000 via a share placing, conducted by Yady Worldwide.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com