Shell pushes FTSE lower as oil prices slip

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) and underperforming miners continued to act as a drag on the FTSE 100, which closed 0.6% lower at 7,322.

Commodity prices remained weak including a 0.7% decline in Brent crude to $52.57 per barrel.

Gold was stable at $1,245 per ounce and copper cheapened 0.7% to $5,842 per tonne.


US equities were subdued as investors banked some profit following a strong first-quarter performance.

Shanghai’s SSE Composite shrugged off concerns about China’s steel industry expanding at a slower pace in March as the index rose 0.4% on Friday.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo and Hang Seng failed to follow suit and both closed 0.8% lower.


The sacking of South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan caused the rand to experience its biggest fall since 2015. That was bad news for several South Africa-exposed companies on the UK stock market including investment bank Investec (INVP), insurer Old Mutual (OML) and healthcare group Mediclinic (MDC) – all of whom fell between 6% and 9%.

Glencore (GLEN) entered a definitive agreement with HNA Innovation Finance Group, which would allow the latter to purchase a 51% stake in its petroleum products storage business for $775m. The stock nudged 1.4% lower to 313.1p.

Shares in pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) remained subdued despite its lung cancer drug Tagrisso being granted full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company also completed an agreement with TerSera Therapeutics for commercial rights to hormone-releasing medicine Zoladex in the US and Canada.


Shawbrook (SHAW) rose 8.7% to 330.8p after Pollen Street and BC Partners made a formal takeover offer at 330p, the same price at their previously-rejected proposal. The board recommended to shareholders that they reject the offer.

Distributor of home entertainment products Entertainment One (ETO) sparked 5.8% to 244.6p following a strong performance in its television and family divisions.


Engineered components provider Avingtrans (AVG) revealed discussions with pumps specialist Hayward Tyler (HAYT) regarding a potential takeover offer.

Sports Direct (SPD) increased its stake in retailer Debenhams (DEB). It now has 16.09% via options and CFDs.

The FDA didn’t agree with Oxford Pharmascience’s (OXP) proposed Phase III study design for the OXPzero Ibuprofen prescription programme, which wiped off a third of the firm’s value to 2p.

Troubled courier DX (DX.) confirmed talks with John Menzies (MNZS) to potentially merge with the latter’s distribution division. John Menzies jumped by 6.8% to 678p.

North Midland Construction (NMD) rose 29% to 264.8p after reporting an improved full year pre-tax profit of £2.1m, from £606,000. It said a significant proportion of its 2017 turnover was secured.

Screening products developer Akers Biosciences (AKR) fell 28.6% to 125p after revealing a placing to raise $2m to grow capital and for general corporate purposes.

BMR Group (BMR) fell 13.8% to 6.2p after it flagged delays to starting production on a tailings project in Zambia.

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