FTSE softens amid ex-divs as sterling gains

London stocks are marginally softer in early deals as a string of ex-dividend factors provided ballast, while sterling eked out minor gains against the US dollar.

Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was down 7.92 points, or 0.11%, to 7294.49, while FTSE 250 was down 6.54, or 0.03%, to 18,820.7.

Blue chips were guided south by ex-dividend Astrazeneca (AZN), off 2.99% to 4544p, with a posse of miners and oil majors also prominent among those stocks retreating.

Anglo American (AAL) faded 2.8% to 1356p, while Shell (RDSA) ebbed 1.3% to 2142.25p.

At 8.37am, WTI crude was up 0.23% to $53.23/bbl and Brent was up 0.36% to $55.95/bbl. Gold was up 0.28% to $1236.6/oz, with silver up and copper down. Sterling was up 0.22% to $1.2489.

Overall, about 32 blue chips were lower, with the remainder making gains. Most moves were limited.

Airlines led to the upside, International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) up 2.83% to 517.75p and easyJet (EZJ) up 1.86% to 972.25p. Financials and property stocks also tended higher.

Coca-Cola HBC (CCH), up 0.22% to 1827p has reported another year of good progress with operating profits up 21% at €506.3m and the business developing in line with its 2020 strategic plan.


Cobham (COB) plunged 20.42% to 107.75p as it described 2016 as an incredibly turbulent and disappointing year for the company. Execution failure in many businesses led it to miss expectations badly and provided a poor entry point into 2017.

eg solutions (EGS), up 17.76% to 63p, has won a £692,000 contract to implement its eg operational intelligence software within the public sector.

Simigon (SIM), down 16.05% to 17p, has warned of FY 2016 results below market expectations, with revenues of about $6m and adjusted net profit before tax of at least $0.3m. It was confident of its exiting forecasts for FY 2017, however.


Huntsworth (HNT) was up 11.11% to 45p as it said Q1 trading was in line with management views, with the company having traded well in Q4. It sees FY 2016 pretax profit ahead of consensus estimates for £14.7m-£15.0m.

Infrastructure India (IIP) fell 15.15% to 7p as it said 99.9%-owned investee firm Distribution Logistics Infrastructure Ltd had struggled since the Government of India's announcement of demonetisation. DLI would find it difficult to generate a FY operating profit, it said.

Solo Oil (SOLO), down 11.48% to 0.54p, has raised £2m via a company-sponsored placing of 400m new shares at 0.50p each, with net proceeds funding the company's share of the imminent well testing programme for the Ntorya-2 appraisal in Tanzania.

Versarien (VRS), up 10% to 16.5p, has signed heads of terms regarding a distribution agreement with Lansdowne Chemicals for its recently launched new graphene brand Nanene.

Laura Ashley (ALY), down 8% to 17.25p, said its like-for-like sales fell 3.5% in the 26 weeks to Dec. 31, 2016, while total sales of £146.0m were down from £149.8m in the 26 weeks Jan. 30, 2016. It posted a pretax profit of £7.8m, from £11.0m, for the 26 weeks to Jan. 30, 2016.

Drax Group (DRX), down 3.52% to 365.65p, has posted EBITDA of £140m for the year to end-December 2016, down from £169m in 2015 but in line with guidance. It was also reviewing its dividend policy.

MTI Wireless Edge (MWE), down 3.7% to 19.5p, said its FY pretax profit slipped to $1.2m, from $1.4m a year ago. The result was achieved on revenue up at $23.3m, from $19.6m, and came with a final dividend of $0.01 a share.

Jarvis Securities (JIM), up 3.91% to 425p, has posted a FY pretax profit of £3.6m, up 7% up on last time. Revenues of £8.3m were up from £7.6m in 2015. Vectura (VEC), up 1.09% to 143.15p, has achieved the £9m calendar year royalty cap on net sales of GSK's Ellipta products in 2016.

Avation (AVAP), up 1.76% to 202.5p, has posted an H1 pretax profits of $8.4m, up 51% up on last time. Zytronic (ZYT), down 1.3% to 380p, said revenue and trading in the year to date has continued to be ahead of the equivalent period and remains in line with management's views.