London equities reverse initial progress to shift modestly lower in early trade on Monday, with Barclays (BARC), BT (BT.A) and BP (BP.) among big-ticket fallers. This after gains on Wall Street overnight Friday, and in Asia this morning. The FTSE 100 index is roughly 13 points lower at 5,888.
There was further pain in the oil and gas sector as oil prices reversed Friday’s big gains with BP down 2.2% to 345p and Tullow Oil (TLW) down 3.6% to 142.5p.
DIY chain owner Kingfisher (KGF) leads the blue-chip loser board as unveils a new strategy that aims to boost profits by £500 million in five years, plus flags a £600 million shareholder cash return in the same time frame. But the market remains sceptical, especially with its main B&Q and Screwfix brands facing increasing competition from Homebase after the latter's recent acquisition by Wesfarmers.
Small cap oil services play Plexus (POS:AIM) plunges 40% to 73p as it delivers a severe profit warning. The Aberdeen-based company behind the patented POS-Grip wellhead technology says sales in the fourth quarter of 2015 were down 50% year-on-year with the fall-off accelerating in November and December.
Hydrocarbons producer Ophir Energy (OPHR) gains 6% to 89.2p as it announces a farm-out agreement with Schlumberger (SLB:NYSE) on its Fortuna floating liquefied natural gas project offshore Equatorial Guinea.
Chips designer Imagination Technologies (IMG) rallies 3% to 126.38p as it focuses growth of Pure digital radio business. The company reckons the unit's financial performance is improving rapidly, although it desperately needs to after years of losses. Imagination is also reviewing its strategic options for this business, perhaps implying that management are finally open to the idea of ditching the Pure business altogether.
Premium tonic water-to-ginger beer supplier Fevertree Drinks (FEVR:AIM) fizzes 6.9% higher to 627.25p, as yet another positive trading statement triggers upgrades. The high-end carbonated mixers marvel expects full-year profits to comfortably top already-upgraded forecasts following strong Christmas trading.
Deal-hungry motor retailer Vertu Motors (VTU:AIM) accelerates 4.4% to 69.13p as investors welcome the £2 million acquisition of three Honda dealerships from rival Lookers (LOOK). The earnings-enhancing deal offers significant turnaround potential and consolidates Vertu's position as Honda's largest retail partner in Europe.
Life sciences group Abzena (ABZA:AIM) shoots 8.2% higher to 52.5p on licencing antibody technology ThioBridge to a US biotech which could see the UK firm claim up to $150 million in milestone payments.
Life science research tool supplier Abcam (ABC:AIM) climbs 7.5% to 646.7p on first half revenue growth of 16.5% beating the 11.5% expectation. This is the result of high demand for its antibodies and a strong performance in China.