Source - SMW
The FTSE was retreating in early deals thanks to the ballast provided by ex-dividend United Utilities and falls among general miners and oilies as the prices of industrial-metal copper and oil tapered.

Not long after the open, the FTSE 100 was down 26.71 points, or 0.36%, to 7421.08p, and the FTSE 250 was down 41.32, or 0.21%, to 19,641.3. Sterling was mildly down on the dollar, and up a jot on the euro.

European indices were lower as the Brexit saga rattled on. 

Gold and silver prices were firming modestly, but copper was retreating. Crude-oil prices were down a little, too.

United Utilities (UU.) fell 2.91% to 910.75p. Then came multi-commodity miners Antofagasta (ANTO), down 1.96% to 750.5p, and Anglo American (AAL), down 1.51% to 961p. More followed.

Oil majors Shell (RDSA), down 1.43% to 2035p, and BP (BP.), down 0.78% to 453.15p, were softer, too. Insurers, commercial property and several banks were notably lower as well.

To the upside, gold specialists Randgold (RRS), up 0.93% to 7060p, and Fresnillo (FRES), up 0.61% to 1557.5p, did well. Pharmas and house builders were also doing well.

Barratt Developments (BDEV), up 0.4% to 568.25p, has appointed Jessica White as an executive director and chief financial officer, with immediate effect.

Also in the news, Diageo (DGE), down 0.89% to 2353.25p, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Casamigos, the fastest growing super-premium tequila brand in the US.  

Reckitt Benckiser (RB.), down 0.33% to 7852p, has priced its offering of $7.75bn aggregate principal amount of senior notes in four tranches. Net proceeds would be used to refinance certain debt facilities incurred to finance the Mead Johnson acquisition.

Stocks going ex-div today included Big Yellow (BYG), Helical Bar9 HLCL), JD Sports (JD.) and Sprue Aegis (SPRP), among others.

BIGGER MOVERS

Electrical Geodesics (EGI) rose 30.97% to 101.5p as it recommended a cash offer by Philips Holding USA Inc. Philips would acquire all of the outstanding shares of EGI for a  total of £29.0m.

Ironveld (IRON), down 32% to 2.13p, has raised £2.1m gross through a firm and conditional placing of 105m new shares at 2.0p each. The company said the proceeds would be used for working capital.

The People's Operator (TPOP), down 38.3% to 3.63p, has narrowed its FY pretax loss to £8.6m, from a loss of £10.4m, amid challenging market conditions. Revenue had improved to £3.4m, from £2.1m.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Ortac Resources Ltd (OTC) subsidiary Ortac s.r.o., the developer of the Sturec Gold Project in Slovakia, has received the final decision from the Main Mining Bureau, that confirms the underground mining permit will be re-issued. Ortac rose 18.52% to 4p.

Imagination Technologies (IMG), up 17.72% to 145.38p, has put itself up for sale having received interest from a number of parties for a potential acquisition of the whole group in the past few weeks.

EVR (EVRH) subsidiary MelodyVR has entered into a global partnership and Windows mixed reality app collaboration agreement with Microsoft. EVR's shares rose 17.39% to 10.13p.

Electronic Data Processing (EDP), up 5.19% to 71p, said its adjusted operating profit rose 8.3% to £260,000 in the six months to the end of March. Turnover rose to £2.54m from £2.51m.

Frontier Developments (FDEV), up 8.95% to 456.5p, expected its FY revenues to be 75% up on last time and operating profits to be up by 500%. 

Saga Plc (SAGA), down 0.23% to 199.25p, said its core insurance and travel businesses have continued their good start to the year with the backdrop of a changing political and economic environment.  

James Latham (LTHM), up 2.93% to 877.5p, said its revenues rose to £198.8m in the year to the end of March, up 6.9% up on last year's £185.9m.  Operating profit was £14.2m, up £1.0m from £13.2m. Pretax profit was £13.8m, up £0.9m from £12.9m last year.

Other stocks in the news included Ultra Electronics (ULE), Polymetal International (POLY), NU-Oil & Gas (NUOG), Trans-Siberian Gold (TSG), Universe Group (UNG), TP Group (TPG), Go-Ahead Group (GOG), Directa Plus (DCTA), Velocys (VLS), Inmarsat (ISAT).