StockMarketWire.com - FTSE indices tapered lower to midday with a blend of mining, retail and some financial stocks providing clear direction south of last week's record closing levels. Oil majors benefitted from firmer crude prices, but, overall, gainers numbered only about 20.

To midday, FTSE 100 was down 31.55 points, or 0.45%, to 7058.22. FTSE 250 faded 51.44, or 0.29%, to 17,823.7. At 11.38am, WTI crude was up 1.63% to $52.48/bbl. Brent rose 1.52% to $58.75/bbl. Greece, Yemen and Iran dragged on sentiment. The market was assessing China trade data that showed exports sank 15% on the year in March.

Miners were thus predictably thick among blue-chip losers. KAZ Minerals (KAZ) shed 3.07% to 213.25p, while BHP Billiton (BLT) lost 3.01% to 1419.5p. Anglo American (AAL), Vedanta (VED), Lonmin (LMI) and Rio Tinto (RIO) were also top-ten blue-chip fallers.

Retail-related stocks underwhelmed, albeit behind miners' falls. Grocery gorilla Tesco (TSCO) flopped 2.24% to 245.38p, with M&S (MKS) down 1.43% to 567.25p and not far behind. Burberry (BRBY), Sainsbury (SBRY), Morrisons (MRW) and Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) also stole lower. Several pharma stocks were down behind Shire (SHP), off 1.36% to 5602.5p.

Financial stocks were studded throughout the fallers' boards. Investec (INVP) shed 1.4% to 599.5p, while Experian (EXPN) lost 1.22% to 1178.5p. Insurers also softened. A number of oil majors were clustered among the biggest risers. Tullow Oil (TLW) added 1.59% to 336.35p, while Shell (RDSA) gained 0.37% to 2034p.

BIGGER MOVERS

Symphony Environmental Technologies (SYM) tumbled 20% to 8.5p on a 12% fall in revenue to £6.35m in 2014, largely due to timing issues for sales of its d2w masterbatch. Adjusted loss per share was 0.23p, from 0.11p a year ago. Elsewhere, ECO Animal Health Group (EAH) rose 17.07% to 240p on expecting FY profits to exceed market forecasts.

Image Scan (IGE) crashed 20.84% to 1.88p as it warned investors to expect substantial H1 losses. The medical kit design minnow blames a slowdown in new orders. Meantime, Galasys (GLS), up 11.11% to 25p has booked a FY pretax profit of RM11.34m, up 35% on the year. Revenues rose 45% to RM38.62m.

Argos Resources (ARG) subsidiary Argos Exploration Ltd has entered into a farm-out agreement with Noble Energy Falklands Ltd and Edison International that will allow exploration drilling on its Licence PL001. ARG's shares fell 13.33% to 6.5p.

Epistem (EHP) rose 25.47% to 332.5p on expectations that India's regulator is ready to approve the sale of its tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic in the country. India accounts for a quarter of the $1bn TB diagnostic market.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Akers Biosciences (AKR) gained 7.14% to 300p on selling its blood-clotting thrombocytopenia tests in nine additional countries, including Montenegro, Bulgaria and Morocco. Meantime, Carr's (CARR) cultivated a 6.95% gain to 148.13p after reporting another record H1 performance and news of a positive start to H2. E

Ithaca Energy (IAE), up 5.29% to 47.38p, has announced the successful completion of flow-test operations at the Well 30/6a-A3Y well, which is the fifth and final development well on the Stella field. It achieved a flow rate of over 8000 boepd.

Kefi Minerals (KEFI) rose 5.12% to 1.13p on news the Ethiopia-focused miner will today receive the licence to start mining at its Tulu Kapi gold project. In other news, Smurfit Kappa (SKG) gained 3.28% to 29.64p on rumours US-based International Paper was mulling a £6bn takeover bid.

Imaginatik (IMTK), up 3.7% to 3.5p, has secured a pair of new contracts. One is with a US-based higher educational institution and the other with a global retail consumer products company. Elsewhere, Ormonde Mining (ORM) said significant progress had been made on the proposed project financing by Oaktree Capital Management for its flagship Barruecopardo Tungsten Project, Spain. A finalised agreement was expected soon. It rose 3.47% to 3.13p.

UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG), down 3.11% to 2.18p, has acquired the 40% of Weald Basin onshore licence PEDL126, taking its stake to 100%. The licence contains the Markwells Wood-1 Great Oolite oil discovery. The stake was acquired from Magellan Petroleum (UK) Ltd.

Other stocks in the news included Development Securities (DSC), Halfords (HFD), Telecity Group (TCY), Greka Drilling (GDL), NetDimensions (NETD), NextEnergy Solar Fund Ltd (NESF), SimiGon (SIM), Telit (TCM) and Range Resources (RRL).




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