All eyes are on Royal Mail (RMG) ahead of the FTSE 100 re-shuffle next Tuesday. With the shares trading down another 2% to 317p on Friday, its current market capitalisation of just over £3.2bn.

That puts it in 119th spot in terms of valuation on the UK stock market, well below the 110th place cut-off, meaning it will automatically be ejected from the blue-chip index.

This sums up a negative trading day across the UK market, with the FTSE 100 sliding another 50-odd points to dip below the 7,000 mark, at 6,991.33.

NOVEMBER RELIEF AFTER RED OCTOBER

UK stocks look like closing out November in negative territory for the month by around 0.4%, after Red Octobers sell-off.

Weighing on the market on Friday are banks - led by Barclays' (BARC) 2.3% fall to 163.38p, food retailers, industrials, miners and tobacco stocks. Healthcare and telecom stocks offer a degree of support.

Despite dropping 7% on a recent trading update, shares in insurer Hiscox (HSX) have climbed back to £16.60 giving the company a market capitalisation of over £4.8bn. That puts it in 90th spot meaning it is guaranteed to join the FSTE 100 next week.

Hiscox, like the rest of the catastrophe insurance sector, has been hit by the spate of hurricanes, typhoons and forest fires in recent months, putting the squeeze on earnings.

MID CAPS SHAKE-OUT

Likely changes to the FTSE 250 index are demotions for AA (AA.), Civitas (CSH), Keller Group (KLR), On The Beach (OTB) and Spire Healthcare (SPI) and promotions for Acacia Mining (ACA) and McCarthy & Stone (MCS).

Joining the FTSE 250 for the first time next week are likely to be Aston Martin (AML), Funding Circle (FCH) and Smithson Investment Trust (SSON).

In company news, engineering services firm Babcock (BAB) announces a 10-year contract for aerial firefighting from the Canadian province of Manitoba.

This is Babcock’s first firefighting contract outside of Europe and is worth around £100m, spread over the term of the agreement. Investors take the news in their stride with the shares trading sideways at 580p.

SERICA STRIKES BP NORTH SEA DEAL

Independent oil and gas group Serica Energy (SQZ:AIM) announces the acquisition of BP’s (BP.) interests in three North Sea fields and the re-admission of its shares to the junior market.

The company is also acquiring assets in two of the same fields from a consortium including mining giant BHP (BLT), France’s Total and Japan’s Marubeni.

Together with the BP deal then will mean a 20-fold increase in Serica’s proven and probable (2P) reserves.

The shares dip 2% to 131p but they have had a good run since mid-year rallying from 60p to over 130p so a degree of profit-taking is to be expected.

Payment network tiddler Earthport (EPO) released full year results which showed a rise revenues despite the loss of a major customer. But the company to rack up losses and burn through cash as wage and technology costs mount up.

The shares stay flat at 6.19p, valuing the business at £38.6m.

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Issue Date: 30 Nov 2018