London shares begin the week on the back foot with investor concerns focusing on selected corporate announcements and ongoing worries about China and its economy. In early deals on Monday the FTSE 100 index sags around 50 points to 6,669, although the sell-off is less severe among Britain's midcaps, the FTSE 250 index also down but not as much, at 17,607.
Mining groups are unsurprisingly weak given more weak industrial data from China, Anglo American (AAL) heading the Footsie loser board despite speculation of interest in the Chilean copper assets being sold by the miner. But the shares remain 2.7% lower at 778.8p. Sector peer BHP Billiton (BLT) is also in the wars, down 2.4% at £11.625 as it reveals plans to axe 380 jobs at its Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in Australia amid challenging market conditions.
Online insurance firm Esure (ESUR) crashes more than 9% to 239.5p as half year profits plunge 21% on dismal motor insurance performance. The company, whose brands include Sheilas' Wheels, hopes to push up premiums after a surge in small injury claims during the six months to 30 June.
Among the bigger movers, North Sea E&P Independent Oil & Gas (IOG:AIM) falls 61.7% to 4.5p after revealing after market close on Friday (7 Aug) that it had less than a month’s worth of funding left and a long-term financing deal with a multi-billion dollar cap company had been withdrawn amid a renewed downturn in commodity prices.
Kazakh focused oil and gas company Tethys Petroleum (TPL) is up 11.9% to 8.25p after its peer Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) confirms it has made a further approach on a C$0.2185 per share offer for the dual-listed firm. Tethys and Nostrum have negotiated $5 million in loan financing to support the former’s short-term liquidity and Nostrum has been granted exclusivity until 25 August to conduct due diligence.
African Potash (AFPO:AIM) continues its stellar stock market rally, up another 24% to 0.67p, as investors get excited about a fertilizer trading agreement in East Africa. The share price has now more than doubled in the past week.
Small cap miner Amur Minerals (AMC:AIM) has struck a deal with a Russian regional development fund to source finance from Russia, India and China to help build its Kun-Manie nickel mine. The news sends its share price up 12.3% to 18.25p.
Elsewhere, power generation equipment hire specialist Aggreko (AGK) receives a leg up in early trading thanks to an upgrade from analysts at Barclays. The stock is one of the biggest gainers in the UK’s FTSE 250 mid cap index, up 2.1% to £11.14 as Barclays moves from ‘neutral’ to ‘overweight’ and publishes a price target of £12.80. Others are less optimistic: Jefferies and Exane BNP Paribas reiterate ‘underperform’ ratings.
A strong trading session in Shanghai overnight helps the Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) investment trust to early gains, up 2.2% to 139p. The China mainland index added 4.5%, shrugging off disappointing economic data which showed exports in July fell 8.3% year-on-year and imports declined 8.1%.