The FTSE 100 has recovered from early losses to trade 10 points higher at 6,956 points following mixed first quarter results from some of the market’s largest names.
Oil major Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) is up 0.9% to £20.87 as an excellent contribution from its refining business helped outweigh the impact of lower commodity prices in the first quarter. Underlying profits for the first three months of the year fall 56% year-on-year to $3.2 billion – a smaller decline than expected.
Part state-owned lender Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) falls 2.6% to 340.2p on racking up a £446 million first quarter pre-tax loss. It paid more than £1.3 billion in restructuring and litigation costs as well as compensation charges during the period. Read our banking review in today’s issue of Shares.
House search web portal Zoopla (ZPLA) is up 13.5% to 210p as the market gives the thumbs up to the £160 million acquisition of energy price comparison site uSwitch. You can read more on the story here.
Staying in the price comparison space Moneysupermarket.com (MONY) posts strong first quarter numbers – albeit against weak comparatives in 2014 – with a robust contribution from utility switching helping to generate 25% revenue growth for the period.
Oil firm Ophir Energy (OPHR) falls 12.5% to 141.5p as Polish investor Jan Kulcyzk sells his 8% stake in the market at 140p a share. The sell-off could leave the vulnerable to sector predators and we discussed the group’s potential takeover appeal here.
Horticultural products play William Sinclair's (SNCL:AIM) torrid time continues, the shares wilting a further 21.1% to 22.5p on news of difficulties in building up operations at its new £25 million supersite at Ellesmere Port will lead to 'a significant level of exceptional costs'.
Automated data analysis minnow Arria NLG (NLG:AIM) collapses as its biggest customer Shell pulls the plug on its contract. That sparks a massive warning given the company's reliance on just a handful of customers, and the shares crash more than 75% to 6.5p, valuing Arria at less than £10 million.
Bus-maker Optare (OPE:AIM) also hits the skids, down 50% to 0.08p, as it tells the market that plans to cancel its AIM listing, if shareholders approve.
Chinese online B2B platform JQW (JQW:AIM) slumps 21.3% to 14.75p despite posting strong sales and profit growth in 2014. A cautious outlook, flagging the effects of a slowing Chinese economy and government policy on smaller companies as well as market encroachment by competitors offering lower prices, accounts for the share price reverse.
Ukrainian iron ore producer Ferrexpo (FXPO) advances 1.7% to 81.38p as investors welcome a new cash injection into the business. It has sold a 15.5% stake in Brazilian miner Ferrous Resources for $41.8 million, albeit half the purchase price. Ferrous twice tried and failed to list in London at the height of the commodities boom and boasts billionaire investor Carl Icahn as one of its shareholders.
John Menzies (MNZS) gets a boost as activist investor Lakestreet Capital calls for a break-up of its aviation and news and magazine distribution divisions. Shares trade 3.5% higher at 375p as Lakestreet claims the business is ‘dramatically undervalued’ and could be worth up to 675p per share.
Disclosure: The author of the paragraph on Royal Mail and Lloyds Banking Group owns shares in Lloyds Banking Group.