The oil cartel OPEC revealed oil output would increase significantly this year, putting pressure on BP (BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB). BP slid 1.9% to 464.7p and Shell dipped 1% to £22.30. As these companies are among the biggest on the FTSE 100 in terms of market cap, the index struggled to stay in positive territory. The blue-chip index nudged 6.09 points lower to 7,132. Brent crude oil declined 0.2% to $64.47 per barrel. Copper rose 0.6% to $3.14 per pound and gold retreated 0.2% to $1,323 per ounce. OVERSEAS MARKETS Instability in Washington following the firing of Rex Tillerson continued to weigh on investor sentiment, leaving the Dow Jones down 0.9% at 24,777 around 4:45pm UK time. MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS Funeral services provider Dignity (DTY) surged 15.1% to 982p after flagging encouraging early signs from its strategy in January to boost its competitiveness. The full year results were in line with expectations in January when the firm delivered a profit warning. Supermarket Morrisons (MRW) fell 4.8% to 215.3p as operating profit fell from £468m in 2017 to £458m, overshadowing better than expected results and a special dividend. Insurance company Prudential (PRU) announced it plans to demerge its UK and Europe division M&G Prudential and sell some of its UK annuity portfolio. Investors approved of the strategy, marking the stock 5.4% higher to £19.25. Hikma (HIK) received a 7.4% boost in the arm to 937.5p, driven by recovering sales growth and a rising dividend. Balfour Beatty (BBY) more than doubled underlying operating profit to £196m thanks to the Build to Last programme. Shares in the infrastructure group strengthened 1.8% to 282p. Holiday Inn owner InterContinental Hotels (IHG) agreed to acquire a 51% stake in Regent Hotels and Resorts for $39m, in a joint venture with Formosa. Its shares were broadly unmoved at £45.27. On AIM, litigation finance provider Burford Capital (BUR) surged 31% to £14.28 after its annual results smashed expectations. SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS Gambling firm Sportech (SPO) suffered a 51.8% crash to 37.5p after it terminated talks to sell the business and revealed a profit warning. Car seller Marshall Motor (MMH) also delivered better than expected full year results. Investors overlooked concerns over the UK car market in 2018 as the shares accelerated 4.8% to 175p.
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