Pound weakens on potential US interest rate hike

The pound weakened against the dollar after Philadelphia Fed president Patrick Harker said an increase in US interest rates was possible in March.

The news nudged the FTSE 100 higher as the weaker exchange rate boosted overseas earnings for some of the blue-chip companies.

Housebuilders eased back as the UK government said in a report it will no longer tolerate delays in building new homes.

It was also confirmed that the government will go forward with a ban on letting agency fees, although it was unclear when this will happen.

West Texas Intermediate slid by nearly 2% to $52 and Brent crude oil fell by 1.5% to $54.87 per barrel, respectively.

Gold rose 0.3% to $1,233 per ounce while copper slipped to $5,820 per tonne.

On Wall Street, investors were excited about a potential rise in interest rates, which caused the Dow Jones and S&P 500 to rebound into the black.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

Shares in oil major BP (BP.) struggled after it warned it will only be able to balance its books at an oil price of $60 per barrel by the end of 2017 as it missed fourth quarter profit expectations.

It reported a decline in earnings for the second consecutive year to the lowest in at least 10 years, and said capital expenditure in the current 12 months was likely to be slightly higher than previous guidance at between $16bn to $17bn.

Pharmaceutical products distributor DCC (DCC) was the biggest corporate riser as it delivered another robust trading update. It also announced DCC Energy will acquire Esso Norge's retail petrol station network in Norway for NOK 2.43bn.

British housebuilder Bellway (BWY) announced it plans to build 5% more homes this financial year after posting an increase in the number of properties it built over the last six months. Volumes in the six months to 31 January rose 6.5% as housing completions hit 4,462.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

First Great Western operator FirstGroup (FGP) impressed investors as revenue improved across the board in the three months to 31 December.

Its First Rail division accelerated by 1.1% over the quarter, but upgrades to the network hit growth. In North America, revenue for its Greyhound intercity coach services rose by 1.2%, up from -2.5% in the year to date.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

A profit warning from embattled parcels business DX (DX.) sent the stock plummeting by 62% to 6.9p, which valued the firm at around £15m. The firm struggled with on-going 'challenging trading conditions', which put margins under pressure.

Mobile trading solutions firm TechFinancials (TECH) fell 35.6% to 7.2p after its largest software licensee Richfield Capital announced it intends to terminate its agreement with the group. It warned that the cancelled agreement was likely to impact its income for 2017.

Education software firm RM (RM.) sealed a deal to buy the Education & Care division of Connect on a £56.5m cash free, debt free basis.

AIM-listed quarrying company Fox Marble (FOX) entered a $1.8m per annum sale and purchase agreement with Mahadev Marmo, causing the stock to gain 21.9%.