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FTSE flat in early deals as Shell slump hits the blue chip index

By BFN News | 08:59 AM | Thursday 12 April, 2012


MORNING REPORT: Headline shares were flat in early deals today, as progress for mining and financial stocks was offset by a slump in shares of Shell following fears of a new oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In early trade, the FTSE100 was down just 3.19 points at 5,631.55 with the FTSE250 ahead 68.8 points at 11,302.8 and the FTSE Smallcaps 8.37 points better at 3,086.84. US & ASIA In the US last night, the Dow rose 89 points at 12,805, the Nasdaq gained 25 points at 3,016 and the S&P500 added 10 points at 1,369. In Asia today, the Nikkei closed up 66 points at 9,525, while the Hang Seng was recently ahead 153 points at 20,294. LONDON MARKETS Fresh momentum in resources prices balanced out ongoing Eurozone concerns this morning, but reports of signs of surface oil close to a Shell platform in the Gulf of Mexico took its toll. A rise in copper prices gave Antofagasta a 13p boost at 1,123p, while Rio Tinto gained 50.5p at 3,387p and Vedanta Resources rose 15p at 1,194p. Press speculation that gold could top $2,000 an ounce pushed Randgold Resources up 35p at 5,440p, while Fresnillo gained 18.5p at 1,586.5p. Banking shares displayed an East/West divide, with Barclays ticking up 1.08p at 213.18p, Royal Bank of Scotland ahead 0.55p at 25.81p and Lloyds 0.22p higher at 30.81p, while Standard Chartered slipped 3.5p at 1,490p and HSBC edged down 0.9p at 540p. Ashmore Group led the fund managers higher after reporting assets under management recovered strongly in Q3. Ashmore shares rose 3.85p at 389.85p, while Hargreaves Lansdown ticked up 1.8p at 465.5p and Schroders advanced 8.5p at 1,448.5p. Supermarket operator William Morrison gained 2.05p at 290.85p after Berenberg upgraded the stock to buy from hold. Peers Tesco and Sainsbury improved 2.48p at 321.48p and 1.2p at 301.2p, respectively. Power plant maker Rolls-Royce added 7.5p at 811p on new it has won another contract with the US Armed Forces. Temporary power supplier Aggreko jumped 57p at 2,216p after it said it enjoyed a very strong first quarter, with both International Power Projects and the Local business growing underlying revenues by 21%. However, automotive engineering specialist GKN topped the early leaderboard, climbing 8.65p at 200.15p after Credit Suisse upgraded the stock from neutral to outperform. On the downside with blue chips, oil producers were on the slide, with Shell the worst performing blue chip of the morning, down 52.25p at 2,132.75p and BP was off 3.92p at 440.23p on fears of a new oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. United Utilities slipped 7p at 591p when Citigroup downgraded the waste and water group from buy to neutral and trimmed its target price from 679p to 640p. Penguin publisher Pearson dipped 5p at 1,125p on news the US authorities are investigating price fixing of eBooks. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com