StockMarketWire.com - Reports that Saudi Arabia would consider extending a deal to restrict global oil supply pushed Brent crude oil 1.4% higher to $74.55 per barrel.

However, the FTSE 100 threatened to fall into the red amid weakness in the mining sector. The blue-chip index closed only 11.5 points higher at 7,328.

Retail sales fell 0.5% in the first three months of 2017 as poor weather kept shoppers indoors, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Copper cheapened 1% to $3.12 per pound and gold retreated 0.5% to $1,344 per ounce.

Department store operator Debenhams (DEB) was in the spotlight following underwhelming half year results and another downgrade to earnings guidance. Its shares dropped 5.6% to 22p after an initial sharper fall this morning. Finance director Matt Smith also resigned in order to move to Selfridges.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

US equities fell on Thursday with the Nasdaq suffering the biggest decline of 0.8% to 7,238 around 4:45pm UK time.

MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Rare diseases specialist Shire (SHP) rejected three buyout offers from Japanese pharma colossus Takeda, but said it is in discussions over whether a 'more attractive proposal' is possible. Shares in Shire advanced 5.9% to £39.75.

Weir (WEIR) benefitted from continued strong momentum in its first quarter and announced the $1.28bn acquisition of mining equipment parts maker ESCO. The pumps and valves specialist also revealed it will sell its flow control division, helping the shares surge 6.2% to £22.50.

Components distributor Essentra (ESNT) confirmed it is expected to return to like-for-like sales growth and margin expansion this year, prompting investors to mark the stock 2.1% higher to 440.8p.

Consumer goods colossus Unilever (ULVR) shed 2.2% to £38.61 on concerns the company is focusing too much on pricing power instead of volume growth.

Defence contractor Ultra Electronics (ULE) reported the UK Serious Fraud Office has opened a criminal investigation into 'suspected corruption in the conduct of business' by the firm in Algeria. Its shares lost 4.7% of their value to £13.23.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Clinical stage biotech firm ValiRx (VAL) announced positive results from its VAL101 studies, which were shown to be effective in inducing programmed cell death in cancer cell models. The stock rallied 15.1% to 3.1p.

Lower gold production at Acacia Mining (ACA) in the first quarter of 2017 dragged its shares 13.2% lower to 134.7p.

Babywear retailer Mothercare (MTC) fell 4% to 18.5p following the retirement of non-executive chairman Alan Parker.

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