Latest market news

FTSE struggles as European equities fall

The FTSE 100 remained in the red after European equities struggled to shake off investor concerns over interest rate hikes in the US.

The blue-chip index closed 0.4% down at 7,252.

British American Tobacco drifted 2.1% to £43.54 on lower cigarette and tobacco heating product sales volumes.

Miner Anglo American (AAL) unveiled strong annual results with improved profitability and lower debt, leaving the shares flat at £18.

Brent crude oil surged 1.2% to $66.21 per barrel.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

US equities recovered from Wednesday's sell-off after minutes from the latest meeting of the US Federal Reserve stoked fears over the pace of US interest rate increases.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.9% to 2,725 around 5pm UK time.

MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Stobart (STOB) announced it could takeover Flybe (FLYB) in a late afternoon statement, helping shares in the latter soar 36.2% to 47p.

Investment firm GIC Private slightly cut its stake in Thorpe Park owner Merlin Entertainments (MERL) to below 3%, causing the stock to slide 2.2% to 341.2p.

High street bank Barclays (BARC) revealed better-than-expected dividend guidance. Investors overlooked full year adjusted pre-tax profit missing consensus as the shares rose 4.4% to 211p.

An improved operational performance at Southern and the sale of the London Midland franchise bode helped train operator Go-Ahead (GOG) beat market expectations. The stock accelerated 14.4% to £15.30.

British Gas owner Centrica (CNA) raised its cost saving target by £500m and reported it will cut 4,000 jobs by 2020. The dividend was also maintained at 12p. Shares in the company sparked 7.2% higher to 141.7p as the market hoped this would help the energy supplier maintain its payout in the future.

Price comparison site Moneysupermarket.com (MONY) slumped 14.8% to 280.1p after warning that growth will be slower than the markets in 2018, resulting in flat full year earnings. The company said growth is expected to accelerate from 2019, but this failed to reassure investors.

Gambling software supplier Playtech (PTEC) was affected by headwinds in its regulated and unregulated operations, causing the stock to fall 2.9% to 751.8p.

A strong international performance at RSA Insurance (RSA) offset weaker trading in the UK, prompting the insurer to beat full year profit forecasts. Shares in RSA advanced 3.1% to 632.3p.

Serco (SRP) was up 3.8% at 94.4p following the announcement that it expects profit to grow in 2018 and 2019.

A subdued UK performance at recruiter Hays (HAS) dragged on the shares, down 4.5% at 195.4p.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

London & Associated Properties (LAS) exchanged contracts to sell both Market Row and Brixton Village in Brixton for £37.25m in cash to a private group of companies, triggering a 20% rally to 27p.

Losses continued to rack up at Milestone (MSG) following a challenging year, prompting the shares to crash 29.5% to 0.1p.