Interest rate hike speculation boost financial stocks

Financial stocks rallied as investors looked ahead to the UK’s GDP data on Thursday. There was speculation an interest rate rise could follow if the data beats expectations.

The FTSE 100 closed 0.2% higher at 7,164, lagging the gains seen on other stock markets worldwide.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil was flat $53.25 and $55.44 per barrel, respectively.

Gold was 1.3% lower at $1,194 per ounce, while copper nudged 0.2% lower to $5,952 per tonne.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones broke through the 20,000 mark for the first time.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 jumped by 1.4% after data revealed that exports in the country increased for the first time in over a year.


Copper miner Antofagasta (ANTO) impressed investors with a 13.8% rise in fourth quarter production and a better-than-expected 20% reduction in cash costs for 2016 overall.

Its peer BHP Billiton (BLT) confirmed production guidance for all commodities except copper with record iron ore output from West Australia.

Shares in Fresnillo (FRES) retreated as news of record silver and gold production was undermined by delays in implementing a turnaround plan.


Frankie & Benny’s owner Restaurant Group (RTN) fell by 13.3% to 300p as a post-close update revealed like-for-like sales growth declined by 5.9% in the fourth quarter. It implied the transformation programme launched last year was yet to have an impact.

Global newsagent and book flogger WHSmith (SMWH) took advantage of its captive market through its travel division as its full year profit growth is expected to be ahead of guidance.

Retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone (MCS) was upbeat as year to date reservation were ahead of its prior year and contributed a further £206m of revenue to the firm’s order book.


Ascent Resources (AST) confirmed a well test is set to start on Thursday, which excited the market and triggered a share price rise of 35% to 2.6p. owner Centaur Media (CAU) was a significant small cap mover following its upbeat trading update. The company started the new financial year with recurring digital subscriptions 10% higher compared to last year.

Kennedy Ventures (KENV) delayed the installation of its new milling circuit to March as a result of required improvements to boost water retention at its new plant. The stock was 12.6% lower at 13.3p.

Fitness tracker firm Fitbug (FITB) slumped 29.2% to 0.18p after it announced a £1m placing at 0.2p.

Self-tanning firm InnovaDerma (IDP) clarified that its heads of agreement with PROS International for distribution was not made into a definitive contract. It informed the market that the minimum revenue expected from the deal was not reached, marking the shares 11% lower.

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