- FTSE indices closed mixed -- the blue-chip down a sliver after earlier hitting all-time highs, and the mid-cap up -- as falls among several big-ticket resources stocks pipped gains elsewhere. In-the-spotlight HSBC (HSBA) sagged on FY results that failed to inspire.

FTSE 100 closed down 3.04 points, or 0.04%, at 6912.16, having briefly hit 6943.61 to eclipse December 1999's all-time closing high around 6930. FTSE 250 was up 45.43, or 0.27%, to 17,168.0. Crude oil was lower. Focus remained on the Greece's attempts to win four months' grace from its austerity-minded European creditors.

HSBC (HSBA) fell 4.63% to 577.2p as its FY pretax profit fell 17% to $18.7bn on lower business disposal and reclassification gains and the cost of fines and other settlements. Standard Chartered (STAN) lost 4.68% to 927.95. Meantime, Tullow Oil (TLW) shed 3.73% to 392.1p to lead oil stocks down. Miners followed Anglo American (AAL), which lost 3.91% to 1197.75p.

G4S (GFS) tacked on 3.24% to 293.1p as investors sniffed value, while pharma stocks Shire (SHP) and Astrazeneca (AZN) followed. Although several financial stocks fell, others showed strength. Lloyds (LLOY) led other banks with a 1.33% rise to 79.02p. Drinks makers SABMiller (SAB) and Diageo (DGE) gained, as did insurers behind Admiral (ADM), up 2.26% to 1496p.

In the news, Antofagasta (ANTO) was down 2.79% to 732.5p as it lowered its cash cost outlook for 2015 but said production guidance was unchanged. Balfour Beatty (BBY) rose 1.81% to 248.1p as its JV Gammon Construction won a HK$3.2bn residential development contract in Hong Kong. Associated British Foods (ABF), up 0.72% to 3058p, expects a small fall in FY adjusted EPS.


Quindell's (QPP) shares rose 26.32% to 96p, suggesting few investors placed store in today's announcement about a possible sale of its professional services division, otherwise the share price would have spiked higher. It claimed indicative sale terms to suitor Slater & Gordon were at a 'significant premium' to Quindell's closing price on Friday.

A 'heads of agreement' deal to sell a technology licence to Compass Resources sent shares in intellectual property owner Alexander Mining (AXM) up 27.27% to 0.7p. The latter has developed a way to extract metals from certain types of rock.

Tower Resources (TRP) and Premier Oil (PMO) have received notification from Lion Petroleum that the Badada-1 will be plugged and abandoned as a dry hole. Tower fell 44.71% to 0.24p, while Premier shed 4.96% to 168.5p.

Nature Group (NGR) has signed an agreement for the sale of its waste water collection and storage vessel, the M/V Crystalwater, for £1.8m cash. Its shares rose 24.49% to 15.25p. In other news, EMED Mining Public Ltd is pleased with the rapid progress being made in the development of the Rio Tinto copper project. Its shares rose 17.86% to 4.12p


US existing-home sales fell to 4.82m in January, down 4.9% from an upwardly revised 5.07m in December, and their lowest rate in nine months, National Association of Realtors said.

Confederation of British Industry said its index of UK retailers plunged 38.0 points to 1.0 in February, from January's 39.0. The market had expected a print of 42.0.

Greece draft proposal included policies to improve tax revenue, clamp down on tax evasion, busting the rampant illicit trade in cigarettes and petrol, media reports said. The debt-stricken country aims to secure a 172bn euros bailout extension until June.


British American Tobacco (BATS) is evaluating a possible public tender offer to acquire up to all of the 24.7% of Souza Cruz shares that it does not own and delist the company. BATS rose 1.96% to 3727.5p.

Oracle Coalfields (ORCP) has received confirmation from Directorate, Coal Mines Development, Government of Sindh, Pakistan that the Mining Lease of subsidiary Sindh Carbon Energy Ltd in Block VI of the Thar coalfield has been restored. Its shares rose 12.5% to 0.9p.

Rosslyn Data Technologies (RDT) said US subsidiary Rosslyn Analytics Inc has agreed with E&I Cooperative Services (E&I) to provide cloud-based spend analytics services to its 3000 members in the US via its E&I Consulting Group division. RDT's shares rose 7.69% to 17.5p.

Gulfsands Petroleum (GPX), up 3.47% to 37.25p, has completed drilling operations on the Douar Ouled Balkhair 1 gas exploration well in Morocco with the well confirmed as a gas discovery. Elsewhere, APR Energy (APR) rose 0.46% to 301.38 as it warned it was in talks with lenders over a breach of loan covenants because of the suspension of its Libya operations in January.

Michelmersh Brick (MBH), up 2.14% to 71.5p, has completed a £2.2m expansion project to raise output capacity by 6m bricks, or 20%, at Freshfield Lane. In other news, Unite Group (UTG) has improved its FY pretax profit to £108.4m, from £79.3m a year earlier, and raised its total dividend to 11.2p a share, from 4.8p. Its shares rose 1.15% to 530p.

Other shares on the move following news flow included Bovis Homes (BVS), DS Smith (SMDS) and Bunzl (BNZL).

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