UK stocks trod water on Friday as the FTSE 100 held steady at 7,576 after chalking up a week of gains.

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) published glum production and margin guidance for the fourth quarter, sending the shares down 0.8% to £22.54.

Sales of oil products are expected to be between 6.5m and 7m barrels per day compared with 6.7m and 7.35m in the third quarter while refining and marketing margins are seen lower.

Chemicals sales are seen significantly weaker at 3.4m to 3.6m tonnes against 3.9m and 4m tonnes in the fourth quarter, with margins seen ‘materially lower due to the continued weak macro environment’ as well as ‘substantially lower asset utilisation’.

Shell also said it will take impairment charges of $2.3bn or £1.8bn in the fourth quarter, while deferred tax charges are expected to have a negative impact on earnings in the range of $500-600m compared to last year's fourth quarter.

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca (AZN) announced the sale of commercial rights to two drugs in Europe and Africa for an up-front payment of $181m and a potential further payment of up to $17m.

The drugs, used primarily to treat breast and prostate cancers, had combined sales last year of $61m but have lost their compound patent protection in these countries. AstraZeneca already sold the rights to both drugs in the US in 2017. Shares traded sideways at £76.35.

Shares in environmental group Renewi (RWI) soared 20% to 32.5p after the Dutch government lifted its 2018 ban on the sale of thermally-treated soil for industrial use in the Netherlands and abroad.

Renewi said it has ‘maintained a strong pipeline of customers’ who intend to use its soil but it may take some months to secure the first permits for use, therefore it has left the outlook for the year to March 2020 unchanged.

Music rights fund Hipgnosis (SONG) announced the acquisition of yet another catalogue of hits, this time from Music Week’s 2019 ‘Songwriter of the year’ Savan Kotecha.

Kotecha is known for his work with Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry.

On Monday Hipgnosis announced the acquisition of a music catalogue from Grammy-winning producer and musician Brendan O’Brien, and on Tuesday it announced that it had acquired a catalogue from songwriter, producer and musician Johnny McDaid, who has co-written songs with Ed Sheeran and Robbie Williams. Shares added 0.5% to 109p.

Shares in Warpaint London (W7L:AIM) slumped 15.3% to 69p as the colour cosmetics supplier warned on annual profits and said it would split the roles of its current joint chief executives (CEOs).

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Issue Date: 20 Dec 2019