FTSE grinds to a halt amid lack of large cap news

Having hit a new record high during yesterday's session, the FTSE 100 has today stalled amid a lack of mid and large cap corporate news to encourage higher trading volumes.

At market close the FTSE 100 traded a mere 2 points higher at 7,622. Overseas markets were more bullish with Hong Kong's Hang Seng index 0.9% higher at 29,863; and China's SSE Composite 0.6% higher at 3,296.

Over in the US, the Dow Jones traded the day 0.15% higher at 24,812.

Back on the UK market, the top riser on the FTSE 100 was mining group Rio Tinto (RIO), up 1.5% to £38.58.

BT (BT.A) fell 2.5% to 267.35p as its shares went ex-dividend. The same reason was behind declines in Dixons Carphone (DC.), down 0.5% to 200p; and Halma (HLMA) which eased 1.1% to £12.56.

Among the select pieces of mid-cap news was further selling of Biffa (BIFF) stock by one of its directors, following nearly £3m worth disposals in late November and early December. Jeff Anderson, managing director of Biffa's Industrial & Commercial division, sold £562,830 worth of shares in the waste management group.

Greene King (GNK) nudged 0.9% higher to 553.75p on bid rumours. Patron Capital was named as a possible suitor, having recently bought Punch Taverns in conjunction with Heineken. Also the subject of recent bid speculation, pharma stock Vectura (VED) jumped 6.6% to 121.5p.

Small cap news was dominated by the resources, engineering and tech sectors.

Oil and gas firm Providence Resources (PVR:AIM) said oil major Total had exercised its option to farm-in for a 35% interest and operatorship to the FEL 2/14 project off the south west coast of Ireland.

Furthermore, a period of exclusivity has been granted to a potential farm-in partner for the Barryroe project. It didn't reveal the identity of the potential partner, but said successful negotiations would deliver a multi-well programme.

The news pushed up shares in Providence by 34.5% to 7.9p. It also benefited Lansdowne Oil & Gas (LOGP:AIM) which owns 20% of the Barryroe field, sending its share price up by 124% to 1.85p.

Eqtec (EQT:AIM) jumped 6% to 2.65p after completing the acquisition of Eqtec Iberia SL, an engineering company specialising in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of power plants.

Chief executive Luis Sanchez said: 'Today marks a milestone in Eqtec's development and is a transformational step for the company in refocusing its strategy into the energy-from-waste market in the UK and Europe.

'With our patented gasification technology, a strong pipeline of projects and relationships with some of the global market leaders in the energy sector, the board believes Eqtec is well positioned to become a leading player in creating electricity by converting waste into synthetic gas.'

Internet of Things investment company Tern said its 56.8%-owned investee business DA had received commitment for a convertible secured loan of up to $1,688,684 from DA's existing shareholders, including Tern.

Tern has committed to contributing up to $721,162 to the DA Loan, which will be provided in two tranches.

Life sciences company TyraTech (TYR:AIM) received permission by its shareholders to sell its human lice products brand Vamousse to Alliance Pharma (APH:AIM). It is paying an initial cash consideration of $13m with further payments of up to $4.5m based on the achievement of agreed sales performance targets for Vamousse in 2019 and 2020.

Retail sector software provider Oneview (ONEV:AIM) reported a 75% hike in half year revenue to $1.8m and a $2.7 pre-tax loss (2016: $2.4m loss). It said recurring revenue increased by 359% to $0.9m and the cash position at the period end (30 September 2017) was $0.6m.