FTSE ends lower as Pearson dives, oil prices ease

London equities consolidated their early losses throughout the session with Pearson leading the blue-chip charge south, followed by a mixed bag of sectors as oil prices tapered.

At the close, FTSE 100 was down 66 points, or 0.94%, to 6947.55, while FTSE 250 shrugged off 187.68, or 1.04%, to 17,792.5.

At 4.58pm, WTI crude was down 1.15% to $49.77/bbl and Brent was down 1% to $51.43/bbl. Gold limped 0.07% north to $1256.4/oz.

Overall, the session saw about 86 blue chips lower, about 52 by 1% or more.

Insurers were guided down by Admiral (ADM), off 3.8% to 1949p, and Standard Life (SL.), down 3.71% to 324.6p. More followed, as did investment specialists after Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.), lower 2.98% to 1155.5p.

Several house builders were also on the back foot after Persimmon (PSN), down 2.46% to 1664p, with oil majors following not far behind. Shell (RDSA) ebbed 1.66% to 2050p.

So, too, banks softened, as did a number of high-street retailers, consumer goods, utilities, commercial property, airlines, leisure and supermarkets.

Pearson (PSON), down 8.38% to 762.75p, reiterated its 2016 guidance and said its 2018 goals were unchanged. It also reported a tumble in American sales, and flagged lacklustre demand for vocational exams in UK.

Engineering titan Rolls-Royce (RR.) powered up 1.18% to 773.5p, and thereafter was a hotch-potch comprising a few banks and some miners.

SSE (SSE), down 0.71% to 1537p, has agreed to sell a 16.7% equity stake in Scotia Gas Networks Ltd to wholly owned subsidiaries of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) for a headline consideration of £621m.

BIGGER MOVERS

Starcom (STAR), down 12.5% to 2.63p, has provided an update on a suit that was filed by Top-Alpha Capital Ltd against CEO Avi Hartmann, COO Doron Kedem and the company and its subsidiaries, as announced on Dec. 3, 2014.

Oilex (OEX), up 13.58% to 0.46p, has executed an agreement with its JV partner, Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Ltd (GSPC), in the Cambay Field Production Sharing Contract (PSC) on the next planned vertical well in the Cambay Field (Well C-78).

600 Group (SIXH), up 10% to 11p, said that, following its successful application to the Spanish Courts, it has acquired the entire manual machine tools business of Kondia, for a total consideration of €50,000.

ECONOMIC NEWS

US industrial production edged up 0.1% in September after falling 0.5% in August, the US Federal Reserve said. For Q3 as a whole, industrial production rose at an annual rate of 1.8% for its first quarterly increase since the third quarter of 2015.

US capacity utilisation for the industrial sector edged up 0.1 percentage point in September to 75.4%, a rate that is 4.6 percentage points below its long-run (1972-2015) average, the US Federal Reserve said.

UK house prices rose 0.9% in October, Rightmove said. This was from a rise of 0.7% in September. The average asking price for a house was £309,122. Meantime, Italy's trade balance for August was a surplus of €2.519bn, which was well below forecasts for an overrun of €4.25bn. The previous surplus was €7.8bn.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Bezant (BZT), up 3.41% to 2.28p, has completed the acquisition of 100% of Colombian Mining Data SA, formerly named Birkenhead Estates SA.

Redhall Group (RHL), down 5.33% to 8.88p, said its financial results for the year are expected to be in line with expectations.

Marlowe (MRL), up 5.08% to 310p, has acquired Hentland Ltd for a total enterprise value of up to £7.6m on a cash and debt-free basis.

Luceco (LUCE), trading at 151p, has announced the successful pricing of its IPO of 71.6m shares at 130p each, giving it a market capitalisation of about £209.0 million. Great Western Mining (GWMO), down 11.34% to 0.54p, has raised £0.5m via a placing of 125m new shares at 0.4p.

Modern Water (MWG), up 4.26% to 6.13p, said its Monitoring Division has received order commitments from customers in the Asia Pacific region, in excess of £550,000, for its range of online toxicity and trace metal monitoring equipment.

Cohort (CHRT), up 4.87% to 355p, said subsidiary MASS has been awarded a nine-year extension to its managed IT service contract for the Sentry Whole Life Support Programme (WLSP) at RAF Waddington. The support contract is valued at about £12m.

MySQUAR (MYSQ), up 3.47% to 3.88p, said that, as of Oct. 14, registered users across all apps and games have exceeded 6m. In addition, a new, more sophisticated version of MyCHAT is expected to be released in the fourth quarter of the calendar year 2016.

W Resources (WRES), down 2.44% to 0.6p, announces the next phase of results from the reverse circulation (RC) drilling programme at the Fast Track Mine (FTM) area of the La Parrilla Mine in Spain.

Other stocks in the news included Serabi Gold (SRB), Utilitywise (UTW), Sareum (SAR), Lok'nStore (LOK), Kromek (KMK), RedstoneConnect (REDS), Anglo Asian Mining (AAZ), Unite Students (UTG), Helical (HLCL), Zytronic (ZYT), Stellar Resources (STG), UK Oil & Gas (UKOG), Regency Mines (RGM), Solo Oil (SOLO), Elecosoft (ELCO), Plant Health Care (PHC), Interserve (IRV), AB Dynamics (ABDP), LondonMetric Property (LMP), Applied Graphene Materials (AGM), Lekoil (LEK), Wolf Minerals (WLFE) and Tethyan (TETH).