StockMarketWire.com - London stocks opened firmly on the back foot with a string of blue-chip financials tumbling after the US Federal Reserve held interest rates unchanged last night, as expected, and Bank of Japan refrained from taking further stimulus measures.

3i Group (III) ws down 3.3% to 505.25p, while Barclays (BARC) dropped 2.02% to 157.7p. Also lower were fellow financials Prudential (PRU), off 1.91% to 1179p, Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.), lower 1.74% to 1185p and Standard Life (SL.), down 1.47% to 297.85p. More followed.

Also lower were multiple US rates-sensitive utilities in the wake of Severn Trent (SVT), falling 2.6% to 2134p, several retailers after Dixons Carphone (DC.), ebbing 1.54% to 390.4p, along with multiple pharmas and leisure outfits. Supermarkets and consumer goods tapered, too.

Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was down 40.25 points, or 0.67% to 5926.55, a level last seen late February. FTSE 250 shed 101.27, or 0.62%, to 16,197.0, a nadir since late February. At 8.42am, WTI crude was down 1.25% to $47.41/bbl. Brent lost 1.18% to $48.39/bbl. Gold was up 1.82% to $1311.8/oz and UK 10-year gilt yields were down 1 basis point to 1.1%.

Although the Fed and BoJ decisions were widely anticipated, the market is still looking towards Bank of England's interest rate and quantitative easing calls midday, with no change expected. UK remains mired in Brexit jitters, with fear increasingly taking root that a quit-the-EU vote could be returned on 23 June.

Just seven blue chips eked out gains. Randgold Resources (RRS) surged 3.44% to 6837.5p as gold flew north, followed by Fresnillo (FRES), ahead 2.23% to 1239p. Glencore (GLEN) added a conservative 0.33% to 136.95p.

OTHER NEWS OF NOTE

Darty (DRTY), up 0.12% to 168.7p, reports a strong FY performance in revenue, profit and cash, with like-for-like sales up 6.1% in France and 3.9% for the group. Group retail profit rose 24% to €93.1m, from €74.9m.

Mulberry (MUL), down 0.93% to 1015.50p, has hiked its FY pretax profit but held its dividend steady. Pretax profit was £6.2m, from £1.9m, with proposed dividend at 5p a share, unchanged. Total revenue rose 5% to £155.9m, from £148.7m.

N Brown Group (BWNG), up 6.65% to 228.65p, said trading is in line with forecasts and its transformation programme remains on track. Group revenue fell by 0.2% in Q1.

Poundland (PLND), up 2.44% to 204.88p, has seen its FY pretax profit fall to £5.9m, from £36.2m, with revenue up to £1.33bn, from £1.12bn. Total dividend was 3.65p a share, from 4.5p.

BIGGER MOVERS

Pennant International (PEN), up 15.38% to 60p, has won a second contract award from Lockheed Martin Mission Systems, and is confident trading will exceed current market views for the financial years ended Dec. 31, 2016 and 2017.

PHSC Plc (PHSC), down 12.5% to 24.4p, said consolidated group revenue for the year to March 31 was about £7.04m, representing a fall of 9% year-on year from £7.7m.

SKIL Ports & Logistics' (SPL), down 10.09% to 49p, FY pretax profit has tumbled to £0.14m, from a profit of £0.73m. Revenue was nil.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Ariana Resources (AAU), up 5.26% to 1.5p, has issued an update on exploration of the Kiziltepe sector of the Red Rabbit gold-silver project in Western Turkey. It said the project is on target for first production late in H2.

Bushveld Minerals Ltd (BMN), up 2.5% to 2.05p, has completed the previously announced acquisition of the Brits vanadium project for US$600,000.

Liontrust Asset Management (LIO), up 2.59% to 277p, said its FY adjusted profit before tax rose to £14.6m, up 21% on last time. Revenue was £45m, from £37m.

Charles Stanley (CAY), down 2.56% to 304p, has reported a pretax loss of £0.3m, down from £6.1m last time. It noted a stabilisation in both the reported and the core business results.

Safestore's (SAFE), up 1.58% to 347.7p, H1 pretax profit has slipped to £49.1m, from £62.2m, as revenue ticked up to £54.1m, from £50.4m. Interim dividend was 3.6p a share, from 3.0p.

Consort Medical (CSRT), up 1.42% to 966p, said its FY revenue rose £92.1m to £276.9m. EBIT before special items increased 47.6% to £37.0m.

Other stocks in the news Purplebricks (PURP), Yorkshire Building Society (YBS), Etalon (ETLN), Seeing Machines (SEE), Totally (TLY), CloudTag (CTAG), Redcentric (RCN), FirstGroup (FGP) and Ormonde Mining (ORM).




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