- Mounting weakness in the mining sector dragged the FTSE 100 into negative territory.

Steel giant Evraz (EVR) weakened 13.2% to 390.9p, as the US Government announced sanctions against certain Russian companies.

Fellow miner Glencore (GLEN) fell 3.1% to 340.2p and Fresnillo (FRES) retreated 1.8% to £12.20. Peers Randgold Resources (RRS) and Antofagasta (ANTO) followed the sector lower.

The FTSE was a handful of points down at 7,178 around midday.

Brent crude oil was up 0.5% at $67.46 per barrel.


Rolls-Royce (RR.) accelerated 1.7% to 883p after signing an agreement to sell the subsidiary of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, L'Orange, to Woodward, for £610m.

Rathbone Brothers (RAT) confirmed it is in discussions concerning a potential takeover of UK investment management firm Speirs & Jeffrey. Shares in Rathbone were steady at £23.80.

Entertainment One (ETO) acquired a 70% controlling stake in Whizz Kid Entertainment, a UK-based non-scripted television production company, from Whizz Kid Sellers. Its shares were flat at 275.6p.

UK parcels delivery service Royal Mail (RMG) was down 1.5% at 548p following media reports over the weekend that chief executive Moya Greene plans to stand down this year.

Media reports on high street bank HSBC (HSBA) said it would appoint its Malaysia chief executive officer to a new role, Head of the Belt and Road initiative in Asia Pacific.


Struggling fashion retailer French Connection (FCCN) said it is selling its mail order business Toast to Denmark's BESTSELLER for £23.3m. Shares in French Connection strutted 20.6% higher to 51.8p.

Embattled Avanti Communications (AVN) lost 18.3% to 8.8p after issuing further restructuring proposals, including a debt-for-equity swap, allowing Solos Funds to own a 42% stake.

Baby retailer Mothercare (MTC) slumped 13.4% to 16.9p on speculation in the weekend papers that it could close a third of its stores in a bid to save the business.

Oil shale exploration specialist TomCo Energy (TOM) delivered good progress in advancing its TurboShale subsidiary as it seeks to build upon its successful BART programme. The good news triggered a 55.3% rally to 2.6p.

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