Economic and geopolitical concerns in Asia continued to cast a dark shadow over the FTSE 100 as China cut its 2017 economic growth target to 6.5% from 6.7% last year.
Slower economic growth dragged on commodity stocks, which also hit Japan’s Nikkei 225 index. Other stock markets in Asia closed flat today.
Throughout the day, miners suffered bigger hits of up to 3.3%, with Glencore (GLEN) and Fresnillo (FRES) among the biggest blue-chip fallers.
Banking shares including Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Barclays (BARC) were also weak.
The FTSE closed 0.3% lower at 7,349.
West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil started to recover at $53.34 and $56 per barrel, respectively.
Gold was 0.3% at $1,229 per ounce and copper cheapened 1.6% to $5,820 per tonne.
North Korea launched four missiles towards the Sea of Japan, while the US Federal Reserve indicated it may put up interest rates this month.
In the US, the stock markets opened lower as US President Donald Trump is expected to sign a new travel ban later today.
The key difference is the exclusion of Iraq, but it will still apply to other six Muslim countries.
FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS
Financial services groups Standard Life (SL.) and Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) agreed an £11bn merger with shareholders in the former owning two thirds of the enlarged business. In the past, Aberdeen was seen as a takeover target following an extensive period of investors withdrawing money from its funds.
BT (BT.A) secured a three-year renewal for the rights to broadcast UEFA Champions League football. It said it is paying £394m each year and its acquisition of EE last year more than doubled its marketable customer base.
FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS
Gold digger Acacia Mining (ACA) continued to decline after Tanzania banned the export of unprocessed metals on Friday. The ban encourages mining companies to use local smelters or build their own ones in the country to process ore. The stock was hit as Acacia has a big gold mining operation in Tanzania.
SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS
Shares in Thor Mining (THR) soared 40% as investors waited for an exploration update on the Pilot Mountain project in Nevada, US.
Urals Energy (UEN) outlined development plans that will involve a ‘considerable step up in its drilling programme’, prompting a 27.4% rise in the stock.
Healthcare firm Futura Medical (FUM) announced that market research endorsed its erectile dysfunction product MED2002, which has the potential to hit peak sales of $1bn. It also filed a new formulation patent with the UK Intellectual Property Office for the product. The stock gained 19.8% to 59.8p.
Chemicals group Synthomer (SYNT) unveiled decent full year results with £122.2m pre-tax profit at constant currency rates, up 16.4% on the previous year. It remained hopeful of decent trading in Europe in 2017 despite flagging expectations for volatility in raw material prices and macroeconomic conditions. The news coincided with Synthomer’s acquisition of Swedish supplier Perstorp Belgium for €78m.
Advanced materials group Versarien (VRS) raised £1.5m by placing new shares at 15p each, which will be used to boost manufacturing capabilities and marketing efforts.
Story provided by StockMarketWire.com