LONDON MARKET MIDDAY: Stocks Turn Negative As Rebound Is Short-Lived

(Alliance News) - Despite opening higher, stocks in London were lower at midday on Monday, with ...

Alliance News 12 August, 2019 | 12:15PM
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(Alliance News) - Despite opening higher, stocks in London were lower at midday on Monday, with the rebound in equities already running out of steam.

The FTSE 100 index was down 23.20 points, or 0.3% at 7,230.65. The midcap FTSE 250 index was down 54.19 points, or 0.3% at 19,037.96. The AIM All-Share index was down 0.61 point at 885.39.

The CBOE UK 100 index was down 0.2% at 12,348.74. The CBOE 250 was down 0.1% at 16,933.80, and the CBOE Small Companies was flat at 10,926.13.

In Paris the CAC 40 was down 0.3%, while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt was down 0.1%.

On the London Stock Exchange, SSE was among a handful of blue-chip risers, up 0.6% after the power utility confirmed it is in discussions with Ovo Group to buy SSE's retail energy services business.

In May, SSE announced plans to offload its energy services segment after more than half a million households switched to a new supplier in the year ended March 2019. The 'Big Six' energy supplier vowed to sell or float its energy services arm - which has around 5.7 million customer accounts - by the second half of 2020.

To this end, it appointed a separate board for the division headed by Executive Ehair Katie Bickerstaffe. SSE announced on Saturday that Ovo Energy is a potential buyer. If it goes ahead, the sale would turn Ovo into one of the UK's largest energy suppliers overnight having been founded just 10 years ago.

Also in the FTSE 100, shares in China-focused banking giant HSBC Holdings were down 0.3% amid escalating violence in Hong Kong between anti-government protesters and police. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed down 0.4%.

In the FTSE 250, Tullow Oil was the star performer, up 17% after the oil and gas company announced an oil discovery by the Jethro-1 well, drilled in the Orinduik licence, offshore Guyana.

The well encountered 55 metres of net oil pay, after the well was drilled to a total depth of 4,400 metres in 1,350 metres of water. Evaluation of logging data has confirmed that Jethro-1 is the first oil discovery on the licence, comprising high-quality oil bearing sandstone reservoirs, dating from the Lower Tertiary age, Tullow said. The discovery has de-risked all other tertiary age prospects on the licence, particularly the Upper Tertiary Joe prospect, which will start drilling later in August, the company said.

Looking further ahead, Tullow said the non-operated Carapa well on the adjacent Kanuku licence is expected to be drilled later in 2019, in order to test the Cretaceous oil play.

In addition, Berenberg raised Tullow to Buy from Hold.

At the other end of the midcaps, RHI Magnesita was down 4.2% after the refractory products firm said tough market conditions experienced in the first half are expected to continue into the second half of 2019.

For the six months to the end of June, pretax profit jumped 83% to EUR164.7 million from EUR89.9 million the year before. Revenue for the period, grew by 2.2% to EUR1.54 billion from EUR1.51 billion the prior year, due to a strong dollar against the euro and Brazilian real, as well as a robust performance from RHI's Industrial division.

On the London Main Market, Thomas Cook was down 17% after the cash-strapped travel operator said it is in talks to raise an additional GBP150 million on top of the previously announced GBP750 million, as part of a capital injection agreement with the company's largest shareholder Fosun Tourism Group, its core lending banks, and noteholders.

Thomas Cook said shareholders will be "significantly diluted" by the funding plans, which involve the conversion of debt to equity.

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabian Oil Co - better known as Saudi Aramco - said interim profit narrowed as oil prices fell despite stable production, in the state-owned oil company's first publicly available results release.

For the six months ended June, pretax profit declined 8.7% to USD92.49 billion from USD101.23 billion a year prior, after revenue fell 1.3% to USD146.86 billion from USD148.77 billion.

Profit performance was hurt by average crude oil prices per barrel falling 4.3% to USD66 from USD69 the year prior. Despite this, total hydrocarbon production remained unchanged at 13.2 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, with crude oil production also flat at 10.0 million barrels per day.

Saudi Aramco has stepped up efforts to increase its transparency ahead of a potentially huge initial public offering. In 2018, Saudi Aramco had made moves towards a potential listing of its shares - touted as the biggest IPO in history - but this was eventually put on hold.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2082 at midday, flat against USD1.2081 at the London equities close Friday.

In political news, a leading think tank has warned that MPs may have little chance of stopping Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushing through a no-deal Brexit when Parliament returns in September.

The Institute for Government said MPs may have limited opportunities to stop a no-deal Brexit and that even if Johnson loses a vote of confidence he may still try to push through this agenda.

The findings echo the reported view of the PM's top adviser, Dominic Cummings, who is said to have told him that opponents of no-deal had left it too late.

Johnson said he is committed to taking Britain out of the EU by the deadline of October 31, whether or not he can get a new deal with Brussels. With time running out, the IFG report said there was less scope for MPs to make their opinion felt than there was under Theresa May in the run up to the previous March 29 deadline.

Opponents of no-deal would still have the option of trying to pass a vote of no confidence in the government, although the report said that there were "risks" involved in this approach.

Stocks in New York were set for a lower open, with the DJIA, the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite all called down 0.6%.

By Arvind Bhunjun; arvindbhunjun@alliancenews.com

London midday is available to subscribers as an email newsletter. Contact info@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2019 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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Securities Mentioned in Article
Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar Rating
HSBC Holdings PLC 586.40 GBX -1.23
SSE PLC 1,124.00 GBX 2.60
Thomas Cook Group PLC 7.02 GBX -8.33 -
Tullow Oil PLC 206.90 GBX -3.14 -
RHI Magnesita NV Ordinary Shares 4,432.00 GBX 1.05 -
RHI Magnesita NV Ordinary Shares 49.28 -
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