FTSE flat after Kraft withdraws Unilever bid

Tomato ketchup owner Heinz Kraft withdrew its takeover offer for Marmite owner Unilever (ULVR), prompting the stock to fall 7.3% to £35.18.

As one of the largest stocks in the FTSE 100, this held the index back at 7,289.

The housebuilding sector was dragged down by disappointing results from Bovis Homes (BVS).

It reported a decline in pre-tax profit, operating margins and return on capital employed. Bovis said it is targeting 10% to 15% fewer property completions in 2017.

Its peers Berkeley (BKG), Crest Nicholson (CRST) and Bellway (BWY) were marked lower on the bad news.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil slipped up to 0.7% higher to $53.71 and $56.23 per barrel, respectively.

Gold retreated to $1,235 per ounce and copper declined 0.5% to $5,974 per tonne.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones was stable on Friday, while the S&P 500 was 0.2% higher as toothpaste giant Colgate-Palmolive was among the top risers.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 was flat despite shares in Samsung Electronics gaining positive momentum after its boss Lee Jae-Yong was arrested.

In China, the SSE Composite jumped 1.2% and the Hang Seng was 0.5% as investors were undeterred by sentiment in Japan.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

Natwest owner Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) benefitted from news that it may not have to spin out Williams & Glyn to meet its remaining state aid obligations.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Petra Diamonds (PDL) announced its full year production could be near the bottom end of its previously guided 4.4 million to 4.6 million carats range. Commissioning on a new processing plant was eight weeks late due to contractor problems.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Interserve (IRV) collapsed by nearly 28% to 242.7p after making new provisions for contract issues on its exited energy from waste business. It raised the amount from £70m to £160m which might not be enough, warned investment bank Liberum.

Investors were excited about an update concerning Beowulf Mining’s (BEM) applications for an exploitation concession for its Kallak North project in Sweden.

Over the weekend, the chief mining inspector said she hoped to provide to provide clarity this week. Despite the company warning ‘there can be no guarantee as to when or if any award will be made’, the stock soared 16.6%.

Gemfields (GEM) faced significant earnings downgrades from analysts after it held a delayed diamond auction last week with a reduced volume and value of carats offered. The miner blamed the shift on issues with India’s financial system affecting buyers from the country.

The market was disappointed that medical imaging software firm Feedback (FDBK) only gain a ‘modest’ contribution from its TexRAD software. Despite expecting a substantial increase in revenue for the software in the second half of the year, the shares slumped 8.7%.

Alpha Real Trust (ARTL) complained that Hansteen’s (HSTN) 300p per share takeover offer for Industrial Multi Property Trust (IMPT) was too low. Shares in the latter nudged higher as the market agreed with a higher bid. Alpha owns 18.7% of the investment trust.

Engineer Hayward Tyler (HAYT) declined 8.9% after downgrading its full year earnings guidance as a result of contract delays. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com