UK stocks decline in early trade on Friday as crude prices continue to slide, sending oil producers into the red. Industry giants Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) and BP (BP.) are among the major drags on the blue chip fallers as Brent crude drops 0.1% to $39.68 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate loses 0.2% to $36.68 per barrel. The carnage also sparks a 7.7% slump at Premier Oil (PMO), among the worst affected, at 53p. The company has particular exposure to oil prices due to its significant debt levels and production bias towards crude.
The FTSE 100 index slides 26 points, or 0.5%, to 6,056, with similar declines seen for UK midcaps, although smaller companies remain largely flat.
In company news, Thomas Cook (TCG) tumbles 5% to 110.1p on news shares in Fosun International (0656:HK), which has a joint venture and a 5% stake in the travel agent, have been suspended. According to several media reports the investment conglomerate's chairman Guo Guangchang, one of China's wealthiest men, has gone missing.
Among the bigger fallers, Mycelx Technologies (MYXR:AIM) collapses 55% to 25p as it warns on full year numbers. It now sees a post-tax profit of $3.4 million to $3.8 million, implying a rough 40% dive from 2014 due to cost reductions already implemented.
Surveillance play Digital Barriers (DGB:AIM) crashes 18% to 41.5p as it conditionally agrees to acquire Brimtek, a provider of state-of-the-art technical surveillance solutions to the US defence, homeland security, federal law enforcement and intelligence communities, for up to $45 million. Investors clearly think the deal is poor value, while more half-year losses don't help the mood.
NFC technology minnow Proxama (PROX:AIM) rallies 17% to 0.53p as it confirms a new contract win with a major North American bank. The two-year contract is to supply, install and maintain a network of proximity services for 10,000 mobile touch points throughout the bank's national branch network in North America. The company floated on AIM in August 2013 at 4p per share.
Interior designs group ISG (ISG:AIM) gains 15% to 141p on a lowball 143p a share takeover offer from 29.5% shareholder Cathexis. Shares have been under pressure because of losses on historical contracts in its construction division but activity in ISG's market-leading London office fit-out business is at a record high.
Consumer lender International Personal Finance (IPF) sinks 25% to 243p on new legislation in Slovakia. Bans on instalment purchases of goods, vehicle hire purchase and loan refinancing will have ‘a material adverse financial impact’ on the business if signed into law as expected following a parliamentary vote on 9 December.
Magners maker C&C (CCR) clips ahead 1.4% to €3.63 on news it has inked a long-term partnership with American-owned Pabst Brewing Company (PBC). Under the terms of the tie-up, PBC will have the exclusive license to distribute and sell all C&C's cider brands across the pond, among them Woodchuck, Gumption, Magners and Blackthorn. For more on C&C, read our recent in-depth analysis here.