- London shares fell after a mixed start, with several blue-chip retailers, financials and property stocks under the cosh as investors brace themselves for PM Theresa May formally starting Brexit talks with the EU next week.

Around midday, in a generally quiet Friday session, the FTSE 100 was down 15.64 points, or 0.2%, to 7326.07, while the FTSE 250 was down 82.25, or 0.43%, to 18,920.

Retailers Next (NXT), down 2.93% to 4076p, and Marks & Spencer (MKS), down 1.6% to 331.9p, were among the biggest fallers. Despite a moderate rise in crude prices, oil majors BP (BP.), down 0.78% to 453.05p, and Shell (RDSA), down 0.35% to 2090.25p, lost traction.

Multiple insurers were present on the blue-chip losers' ladder, with Admiral (ADM) down 1.43% to 1963.5p, and Aviva (AV.) shedding 0.8% to 526.25p.

Pharma majors were softer after Hikma (HIK), off 1.23% to 2001p, while both residential and commercial property were easing. Intu (INTU) shed 0.78% to 274.98p, while Persimmon (PSN) lost 0.76% to 2096p. More in both sectors were softening, too.

Gains among the list of blue-chip risers were mostly limited.

Smiths Group (SMIN), up 2.67% to 1597.5p and atop the pile, gained after its well-received FY numbers. Pretax profit was £248m, up 31%, with revenue coming in at £1.6bn, up 18%. Interim dividend was 13.55p a share, up from 13.25p. Its outlook for 2017 unchanged.

It was followed up by a mixed bag of miners, utilities, tobacco companies and banks.

Land Securities (LAND), down 0.43% to 1048.5p, would soon complete demolition of the existing buildings at 21 Moorfields in central London. It was in talks with Deutsche Bank regarding a pre-let for the development. There was no guarantee these talks would lead to a transaction.


UK banks approved a smaller number of mortgages in February, the British Banking Association's monthly report has showed. BBA said mortgage approvals in February totalled 42,613, down 3.4% from January's revised 44,142 and 4.6% down from February 2016.

Eurozone's flash manufacturing purchasing-managers' index (PMI) for March rose to 56.2, from 55.4 previously and against views for 55.3. The flash services PMI for March was at 56.5, above views for 55.3 and from 55.5.


Tethys Petroleum (TPL) was down 35.71% to 1.13p after applying to the UK listing authority to cancel the standard listings of its shares. The company had decided the costs of maintaining a dual listing in London and Toronto was too expensive. It would remain listed in Toronto.

Minoan Group (MIN) was up 33.96% to 8.88p after reports in the Greek media stated the appeals against the Presidential Decree granting land use approval for its Project in Crete have been rejected by the Greek Supreme Court.

Digital Barriers (DGB), down 20.16% to 24.75p, warned it faced a shortfall in FY revenues of about £10m if contracts currently under negotiation were not signed by the end of March. However, it noted that it expected to secure all of these awards.

Shares in Ortac Resources (OTC) were up a phenomenal 10,971%% to 3.88p. Earlier in March, the company announced a one-for-100 capital reorganisation.

Tlou Energy (TLOU), down 8.93% to 6.38p, has successfully raised a A$5.2m in a placement of 51.8m new shares at A$0.10 each, with proceeds being used for a variety of purposes as the company also unveiled a share purchase plan.

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