Source - SMW
London shares opened lower as a lengthy list of ex-dividend stocks undoubtedly weighed and as investors looked to the midday interest rate decision by the Bank of England.

Last night the US Federal Reserve hiked its interest rates. It also laid out a plan for balance sheet reduction. It believed inflation would fall below its 2% target this year.

In early deals, the FTSE 100 was down 35.77 points, or 0.48%, to 7438.63p. The FTSE 250 was down 171.77, or 0.86%, to 19,802.9. Sterling was mildly down on the dollar, but up on the euro. The dollar spot index was rising. In Europe, the Dax and Cac 40 were both lower.

Among commodities, WTI and Brent crude were slipping, while gold and silver were firmly down, with copper posting a moderate decline.

This saw miners hurt. Anglo American (AAL) fell 3.16% to 1025.5p, while Fresnillo (FRES) dropped 3.15% to 1627p. More in the sector were close behind. 

Oil majors BP (BP.), down 0.55% to 459.08p, and Shell (RDSA), off 0.87% to 2083.25p, were declining, too.

House builders were led south by ex-dividend Persimmon (PSN), off 5.26% to 2294.5p, while commercial property followed British Land (BLND), lower 0.97% to 640.75p.

Just five stocks were making gains. HSBC (HSBA) led with a 0.48% rise to 683.95p, while Standard Chartered (STAN) added 0.03% to 756.3p.

Sky (SKY), down 0.28% to 963.75p, and Virgin Media have announced a strategic partnership that will enable businesses both big and small to benefit further from advanced TV advertising across both Virgin TV and Sky platforms.

Among the stocks going ex-dividend today were 3i Infrastructure (3IN), Assur (AGR), NewRiver Retail (NRR), Pets At Home (PETS), The Restaurant Group (RTN), Shaftesbury (SHB), Safestyle UK( SFE), Severn Trent (SVT) and Topps Tiles (TPT).

BIGGER MOVERS

Starcom (STAR), up 41.67% to 2.13p, has entered into a three-year supply and support agreement with Shiptek Solutions Corporation, a Philippine software company, for the supply of its Tetis R container tracking system.

DFS Furniture (DFS), down 21.48% to 197.88p, has warned that full-year earnings are likely to be below market forecasts after a a greater-than-expected weakening in the trading environment.

Angle (AGL) rose 14.96% to 73p said researchers the company's Parsortix system have found a rare cell in the blood of prostate cancer patients, and discovered that the number of these cells in the blood correlates closely with increased patient survival. This was the first time the presence of these cells in the blood has been shown to be connected to cancer prognosis. 

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

System1 (SYS1), down 13.01% to 752.5p, has posted a 15-month pretax profit of £6.3m, from a 12-month profit of £5.0m. Revenue was £32.8m over the 15 months, against £25.9m in the shorter period. Eurasia Mining (EUA), up 10% to 0.55p, has announced an extension to the heads of terms agreement with OOO Metallurg Complect, over the Semenovsky tailings project.

NewRiver REIT (NRR), down 6.94% to 343.4p, has proposed a capital hike to raise gross proceeds of not less than £133m via a firm placing and additional gross proceeds of not less than £67m by way of a placing and open offer. All would be at an offer price range of 330p-340p a share.

CyanConnode (CYAN), up 6.56% to 0.16p, said its $5.4m purchase order from a specialist in energy management systems for a smart metering contract in Bangladesh announced in February has been increased to $9.3m.

Sprue Aegis (SPRP), up 6.41% to 207.5p, said it has made a positive start to the year with an an expected strong return to profitability in H1 2017 building on the steady progress delivered by the Company in the second half of 2016.

Safestore (SAFE), down 4.19% to 435.35p, has boosted its H1 pretax profit to £55.0m, from £49.1m, with dividend rising to 4.2p a share, from 3.6p. It said it remained on course to meet directors' FY expectations.

OptiBiotix Health (OPTI), up 3.5% to 74p, has entered into a three-year supply agreement with HLH BioPharma Vertriebs GmbH covering the supply of LPLDL capsules. Custodian REIT (CREI), down 3.39% to 117.38p, has acquired a 69,922 sq ft distribution unit on Eurocentral, Scotland's leading mixed-use business park on the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh.  

Other stocks in the news included Seeing Machines (SEE), Asiamet (ARS), PZ Cussons (PZC), WS Atkins (ATK), Liontrust Asset Management (LIO), Katoro Gold (KAT), Majestic Wine (WINE), UK Commercial Property Trust (UKCM), Drax (DRX), Echo Energy (ECHO), Diversified Gas & Oil (DGOC), John Laing Environmental Assets (JLEN), Bahamas Petroleum (BPC) and Clear Leisure (CLP).