Banking stocks and Shell keep a lid on FTSE

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) was pushed 1.8% lower as figures from the American Petroleum Institute hit oil prices.

The report revealed a 14.2 million barrel build in its crude oil stocks last week compared to an expected increase of only 2.5 million.

High street banks were among the blue chip winners as HSBC (HSBA), Lloyds (LLOY) and Barclays (BARC) gained momentum.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil rose by 0.4% to $52.40 and $55.23 per barrel, respectively.

Gold gained 0.6% to $1,241 per ounce and copper rallied 1.7% to $5,886 per tonne.

In the US, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones opened in negative territory.


Gold miner Rio Tinto (RIO) returned to profitability in 2016 as it posted net earnings of $4.6bn against a 2015 loss of $866m. It also unveiled a better than expected dividend to reward investors.

Stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) failed to rally as net new business flows were down 7% in the six months to 31 December (excluding the Jupiter and JPMorgan client acquisitions in the prior year). This overshadowed a 21% advance in pre-tax profit and 10% rise in the dividend as share trading gained momentum after the Brexit vote.


African oil explorer Tullow Oil (TLW) fell by 5.4% on a 19% increase in borrowings in its 2016 results. The company said the majority of its cash flow in 2017 would be put towards reducing its $4.8bn debt.

Beds and curtains pusher Dunelm (DNLM) announced ‘softer than expected’ trading due to a weaker market and supply chain disruption in the six months to 31 December. The disappointing trading hit pre-tax profit by 26%.

Sophos (SOPH), which aims to protect users against phishing emails, agreed to acquire the commercial software products business of Invincea for $100m, plus $20m in extra payments.

Polymer manufacturer Victrex (VCT) declined 4% as revenue was flat in the first quarter of 2017 and polymer volumes fell by 6% to 810 tonnes.


AIM-listed China Africa Resources (CAF) sealed an investment agreement with private Australian business US Lithium (USL) to acquire a 47.5% stake in the company. It said USL has interests in lithium exploration licences in Arizona and New Mexico.

Connemara Mining (CON) failed to find gold at its Inishowen project in Ireland, prompting the share price to fall 23.3%.

Struggling marketing group St Ives (SIV) delivered bad news to the market as HarperCollins decided to not renew its contract for the production of monochrome books in the UK. Shares in the firm slumped by 14% to 62.5p.

Versarien (VRS) was one of the biggest small cap risers following the launch of its graphene brand, Nanene, which can be used in carbon fibre composites. The stock soared 32.2% to 15.5p.

Investors were left in the cold after smart boilers supplier Flowgroup (FLOW) reported it plans to sell its Flow Energy business. The firm said it would help fund the launch of its microCHP technology in Europe.

Story provided by