The worry that other financially-weak countries would copy Cyprus and sell gold reserves, together with weaker-than-expected growth figures from China, have put the boot into the mining sector. Widespread falls were recorded in gold producers and bulk commodity miners including an 18% drop in Russia-based Petropavlovsk (POG) to 152.3p which has the double whammy of being exposed to gold and China, the latter through its stake in iron ore producer IRC.
Other stocks to suffer include precious metals miner Fresnillo (FRES), down 17.2% to £10.54, and gold producer Medusa Mining (MML), slipping 15.2% to 225.25p. Ukrainian iron ore miner Ferrexpo (FXPO) was hit by the Chinese data which implies a smaller appetite for steel raw materials, sending the mid cap down 9.8% to 164p.
Coal miner Bumi (BUMI) slumped 19.4% to 236.9p as the market digested news late last week that it would have to postpone the release of its financial results, previously scheduled for 24 April. Analysts said that the shares may get suspended if it cannot publish by 30 April, as per main market listing rules.
While overshadowed by events in the commodity and mining space, the gaming sector had a flurry of announcements that kept investors on their toes. Private equity group CVC said it may make a takeover offer for Betfair (BET), sending the target's share price up 10.2% to 770.5p. But sector peer Ladbrokes (LAD) slumped 7.6% to 191.1p after issuing a trading update that read like a mild profit warning. It has blamed a drop in profits from the Cheltenham races, lower revenue from high-value gaming customers and horse racing cancellations.
The bears hold sway over equity trading software supplier Fidessa (FDSA) after steering for a flat 2013. That knocks investor confidence; the market was hoping for better news considering the strong rally in global stock markets this year, slicing nearly 5.5% off the shares at £17.86. But there are signs that new product investment and a flushing out of less sticky customers could bode very well for 2014.
Analysts raise warning flags over Centrica's (CNA) £650 million acquisition of natural gas and oil assets in Canada. Earnings enhancing from the off, Deutsche Bank points out that the British Gas-owner's low-risk, utility-like price/earnings rating of 13.5, could be re-assessed by the market if the group continues to pursue higher-risk energy expansion. The shares inched up 0.3% to 380.4p.
The promise of a material contract extension failed to inspire new buyers in insurance services specialist Quindell Portfolio (QPP:AIM), the shares virtually flat at 14.25p. That's despite back-of-notebook analyst calculations of £100 million revenue for this year. Cenkos expects £390 million of revenue from the company in 2013.
Interesting timing for a new AIM admission with gaming terminals platform developer Quixant unveiling its plans to join the junior market on the very day bookmaker Ladbrokes steers for lower profits. The Cambridge area-based company hopes to tap investors for $8 million (£5.2 million) of fresh funds to push the expansion button into a market of 7.9 million gaming machines, according to the company. Last year (2012) Quixant doubled revenue to $21.6 million and saw taxable profits triple to $4.8 million.
It was a case of buy on the rumour and sell on the news with television software services microcap Motive Television (MTV:AIM), down 1.7% at 0.03p on confirmation of a favourable Italian court judgement. The counter is up 123% over on month. A preliminary hearing found for the company relating to dispute with an Italian sales consultant.
Emerging markets fund manager City of London Investment (CLIG) fell 4.8% to 240p after news that chief executive officer (CEO) Doug Allison and the finance director Valerie Tannahill have left the company. Founder Barry Olliff, the chief investment officer, has stepped up to the CEO role and the company has reaffirmed that it will pay a final dividend of 16p in the final month of its financial year to end of May.
Costain Group (COST) shed 1.2% to 288.5p despite two joint ventures led by the heavy construction specialist being awarded Crossrail contracts valued at a total £315 million. The two joint ventures – both with French engineering giant Alstom – comprise of a £300 million design, fit-out and commission of Crossrail's railway systems as well as a £15 million contract to provide traction power for the trains in the central tunnelled section of the Crossrail scheme.
Gulf of Mexico focused oil & gas producer Silvermere Energy (SLME:AIM) ticked up 1.8% to 5.09p after it announced the operator of the Mustang Island field is planning to work-over the I-1 well, in which it holds a 16.7% stake, to increase its output.
Shares in AIM-quoted oil play Range Resources (RRL:AIM) were suspended on precautionary grounds pending clarification on a 'significant transaction'. Last month (11 Mar) the group revealed it had reached an agreement to sell its Texan oil and gas interests for $30 million.