Source - SMW
The FTSE 100 was in the red as many blue-chip stocks traded ex-dividend, including United Utilities (UU.), Experian (EXPN) and Mediclinic (MDC).

Financial stocks continued to drag on the index, as Barclays (BARC) was down 1.6% to 197p and Lloyds (LLOY) drifted 0.7% to 66.6p.

Gold was up 0.6% to $1,251 per ounce and copper was stable at $5,732 per tonne. 

Airline stocks failed to take flight despite an uplifting report from ForwardKeys. The global analytics firm said Britain's tourism industry remained resilient in light of recent terrorist attacks and was set for higher bookings this year.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

Wall Street was subdued as Brent crude oil prices hit a six-month low at around $45 per barrel, which impacted energy stocks. The S&P 500 was flat last night at 2,435.

Asia failed to break the trend as all stock markets were red across the board. China's SSE Composite was the biggest hit as it closed 0.3% lower at 3,147 on Thursday.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

Housebuilder Barratt Developments (BDEV) appointed Jessica White as chief financial officer, although the market response was muted as the shares barely moved at 566p.

Alcohol giant Diageo (DGE) agreed to buy George Clooney's tequila brand Casamigos in a deal that was valued at up to $1bn. Investors were unimpressed by the deal as the stock fell flat at £23.44.

It was good news for Standard Life (SL.) after Britain's competition watchdog approved the company's £11bn deal to buy Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN). The deal is set to create the country's biggest listed asset management firm. Shares in both asset managers were flat as the approval was anticipated by the market.

A jury ordered Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to pay pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) over $235m for infringing its drug Coreg, a beta blocker to treat heart failure. GSK shares were boosted 1% to £17.01.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

In the mid-cap sector, Saga (SAGA) persevered against a difficult economy as its core insurance and travel businesses continued to perform well throughout the year.

A delay in approving the US 2017 budget was bad news for Ultra Electronics (ULE). The defence group blamed the delay on the deferral of US orders to the end of the first half and second half of this year, prompting a 1.2% decline to £20.44.

Shares in Southern operator Go-Ahead (GOG) were going nowhere at £18.36 despite a decent trading update with no nasty surprises. The company said that no significant industrial action on Southern services meant performance was more stable, but an upcoming overtime ban might result in unnecessary disruption.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Imagination Technologies (IMG) enjoyed a 15.8% rally in its share price to 143p after it put itself up for sale. It has been a difficult year for Imagination due to a dispute with its key customer Apple, which wiped off 70% of its market value.

Nearly two-fifths of mobile start-up The People's Operator (TPOP) was wiped off to 3.6p as it missed full year expectations and revealed a set of underwhelming numbers.

An unconfirmed report from India's Business Standard focused on Cairn Energy (CNE). It said that the oil exploration firm's 9.8% stake in Cairn India might be put up for sale under tax recovery proceedings which started last week.

A deal for EVR's (EVRH) subsidiary MelodyVR lifted the stock 18.8% higher to 10.2p. MelodyVR sealed a global partnership and Windows mixed reality app collaboration agreement with Microsoft.