- Oil prices remained stagnant throughout the day, preventing sector giants Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) and BP (BP.) from giving the FTSE 100 any positive momentum.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil were at $52.83 and $55.24 per barrel, respectively.

Due in part to their significant weighting on the index, the blue-chip index remained 0.3% lower at 7,277.

Gold gained 0.7% to $1,240 per ounce and copper cheapened 1% to $5,974 per tonne.

The ongoing revelations about potential links between the Trump administration and Russia are proving unsettling to investors.

This concern was reflected in the S&P 500 and Dow Jones, which were both flat as the stock market opened on Thursday.

The Nikkei 225 closed 0.5% lower on a stronger yen. The market was worried about the effect of the currency on its export sector.

The Hang Seng and SSE Composite indices went in the opposite direction as they brushed off weakness in Asia's largest market.


Rare diseases specialist Shire (SHP) received a shot in the arm after the company delivered a 78% jump in sales to approximately $10.9bn, which was helped by its acquisition of Baxalta.

AstraZeneca's (AZN) partner Valeant Pharmaceuticals said the US Food and Drug Administration approved Siliq (brodalumab) injection for the treatment of adult patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. The news failed to sway the share price either way.


Troubled Defence firm Cobham (COB) continued its downward spiral after issuing its fifth profit warning in just over a year.

Trading profit for 2016 was guided at £225m compared with previously trimmed guidance of £245m given in January. There were writedowns of over £750m, which included £150m on its troubled Boeing US KC-46 tanker contract.

The company reported it will be difficult to meet 2017 expectations.

Power station operator Drax (DRX) stumbled 5.7% to 357p as it reports full year earnings down 17% at £140m, amid challenging commodity markets. Dividends fell in line with a policy of paying out half of earnings. The results were towards the lower end of analyst expectations.

Specialty property insurer Lancashire (LRE) was safe as houses as full year results demonstrated its resilience despite turbulent conditions in 2016. Return on equity for the 12-month period was flat at 13.5%, which chief executive Alex Maloney described as 'an exceptional outcome'.


Optimisation software firm EG Solutions (EGS) jumped 15.4% to 61.7p on a £692,000 contract award in the public sector, the first through its partnership with cloud services business GCI.

Home furnishings and womenswear retailer Laura Ashley (ALY) struggled as first half results revealed like-for-like sales down 3.5%. It also warned pre-tax profit for the full year will fall short of expectations.

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