UK shares gave up their early gains to trade lower at midday as a strong showing by mining shares on talk of a commodities 'supercycle' was offset by weakness in banking and healthcare stocks.

After rallying almost 1% during the morning, Brent Crude also gave up its gains to fall 0.5% to $64.50 per barrel, while gold - which has been overlooked in the dash for other precious metals - actually climbed 0.5% to $1,785 per ounce.

At 12.15pm the FTSE 100 of leading shares was 54 points or 0.8% lower at 6,656.

CORPORATE NEWS

Barclays  (BARC) reported full-year pre-tax profit down 29.5% to £3.1 billion, after taking provisions of £4.8 billion for potential credit losses due to the weakness of the economy.

Group income was up 1% to £21.8 billion as the international division, which includes the investment bank, grew 8% to £15.9 billion.

The company announced 5p per share of distributions in aggregate and intends to buyback up to £700 million of shares. However, the shares fell 3.7% to 148p on the bank's cautious outlook for this year.

Medical technology company Smith&Nephew (SN.) said full-year revenues declined 12.1% on an underlying basis leading to a 41.5% fall in trading profit to $683 million as the pandemic impacted elective surgeries.

The full year dividend was maintained at 37.5 cents per share reflecting confidence in the business and strength of the balance sheet. The shares were the worst performers in the FTSE 100, dropping 5%to £14.88.

Property investment trust Primary Health Properties (PHP) said full year adjusted earnings increased by 22% to £73.1 million driven by continued growth in rental revenues as well as a reduction in cost of finance.

The value of the group’s investment portfolio also grew, up 2 percent to £2.576 billion. The group also reported an increase to the dividend per share, up 5.4 percent to 5.9p. The shares were 0.5% lower at 147.7p.

Recruitment company Hays (HAS) reported pre-tax profit down 78% to £21.1 million year-on-year as net fees slipped 24% to £422.8 million in the first half to 31 December 2020.

However, the company vowed to resume its dividend payments later this year in August, citing a stronger recovery in the second quarter. That pleased income seekers, leaving the shares flat at 158p.

Price comparison website MoneySuperMarket.com (MONY) said full year profits fell 27% to £69.3 million as revenues declined across all divisions, falling by 11% compared to the previous year.

The company maintained its dividend at 11.71p per share, saying that to hit the top end of consensus estimates for this year would need 'a strong and rapid recovery' in money- and travel-related revenues. That seemed to encourage buyers, who pushed the shares up 8% to 290p.

New listing Moonpig (MOON), the online card and gift retailer, saw its shares jump 3% to 450p after it announced it had the strongest ever trading week in its history ahead of Valentine’s Day.

Having stepped up its marketing spend to draw in more customers, the firm now expects sales for the year to April 2021 will be roughly double the £173 million generated the previous year.

Drugmaker Indivior (INDV) reported a pre-tax loss $173 million, compared with a profit of $180 million year-on-year as revenue slipped 39% to $647 million.

Looking to 2021, the company guided net revenue of $625 million, with Subclocade revenue between $185 million and $210 million and Perseris revenue in a range of $17 million to $20 million. The shares, which have gained more than 270% in the last year, dropped 1.1% to 147p.

Precious metals miner Hochschild Mining (HOC) said full year pre-tax profit fell 18% to $76.8 million year-on-year as revenue slipped to $621.8 million from $755.7 million.

The company proposed a final proposed dividend of 2.335 cents per share, bringing the full-year total dividend to $32.6 million, up from $10.2 million. The shares gained 1% to 222p.

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Issue Date: 18 Feb 2021