London's FTSE 100 ticks 1.05 points lower to 7,063 early on in the final, truncated trading session before Christmas, with traders awaiting the UK current account and final GDP data which are out mid-morning. As expected, corporate news is rather thin on the ground, although the banks are in the headlines for all the wrong reasons again.
Banking giant Barclays (BARC) cheapens 1p to 226p after the US Department of Justice (DoJ) files a complaint relating to its residential mortgage-backed securities activities between 2005-2007, with the allegations including mail and wire fraud.
However, the transatlantic bank 'considers that the claims made in the complaint are disconnected from the facts' and Barclays says it will 'vigorously defend the complaint and intends to seek its dismissal at the earliest opportunity.'
Barclays’ intention to dispute the DoJ claim is in contrast to Germany’s largest lender Deutsche Bank, which today agreed to settle for $7.1bn (£5.7bn), around half the DoJ’s opening request of $14bn. Deutsche’s shares trade around 4% higher in Frankfurt at €18.44.
FTSE 100 drugs giant AstraZeneca (AZN), now focusing on its core therapeutic areas, is bid up 19p to £43.62 after completing the money-spinning sale of its small molecule antibiotics business to Pfizer.
Elsewhere, NetDimensions (NETD:AIM) sparks up 8.2% to 72.5p on news it is 'in advanced discussions with interested parties' having received a bid approach in October. This update accompanies a well-received trading statement from the talent management and training software supplier, whose CEO Jay Shaw guides towards a US$2m full year EBITDA profit on $26m plus sales for 2016, up from $25.4m for 2015.
Jet2 parent Dart (DTG:AIM) jumps 6.75p higher to 495.75p on news it has ordered another four new Boeing 737-800NG jets in addition to the 30 it ordered last year. The aircraft are needed to meet anticipated growth in the group’s leisure travel business and planned fleet replacement and will cost Dart $384m, a significant discount from the list price.