China’s weaker economic growth concerns investors

Economic and geopolitical concerns made investors nervous as China cut its 2017 economic growth target to 6.5% from 6.7% last year.

North Korea launched four missiles towards the Sea of Japan, while the US Federal Reserve indicated it may put up interest rates this month.

Commodity stocks dragged the FTSE 100 lower on the latest from China, which also hit Japan’s Nikkei 225 index. Other stock markets in Asia closed flat today.

Nearly all the big miners fell by approximately 1%, with Fresnillo (FRES) and Anglo American (AAL) taking the biggest hit.

Banking shares including Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HSBC (HSBA) were also weak.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil fell 0.7% to $53 and $55.50 per barrel, respectively.

Gold was 0.4% to $1,230 per ounce while copper dropped 1.2% to $5,842 per tonne.


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.


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.


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 17% to 58.5p.

Sausage skin maker Devro (DVO) reported a marginal drop in underlying pre-tax profit for 2016 and maintained its dividend at 8.8p per share. Management previously flagged problems during 2016, reflected in a 6.6% decline in annual sales volumes. The company said it will focus on regaining market share, cutting costs, increasing revenue and launching new products.

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.

Shipping group Irish Continental (ICGC) failed to make waves despite an 11.6% rise in full year pre-tax profit to €60.4m thanks to more car and freight volumes and higher charter revenues. Investment bank Investec said the business should be debt-free by the end of 2019, despite spending €144m on a new ship which arrives next year.

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.

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