Latest market news

Provident crash fails to derail FTSE comeback

It is rare to see a FTSE 100 company lose more than half its market value in a single session, but today we had a clear example. Provident Financial (PFG) crashed 66.4% to 589.5p after revealing a string of bad news.

The company said its collections performance was running at 57% compared to 90% in 2016 and sales were also £9m per week lower than the comparative weeks in 2016. Chief executive Peter Crook has gone, the dividend has been cancelled and financial regulator the FCA is investigating one of Provident's ancillary products.

On a broader basis, mining stocks helped to lift the FTSE 100 thanks to strong half year results from Antofagasta (ANTO) and BHP Billiton (BLT). Rio Tinto (RIO) and Glencore (GLEN) followed their peers higher, gaining 2.7% and 1.8% to £35.39 and 348.6p respectively.

The FTSE 100 ended the day 0.9% higher at 7,386.

Among commodity prices, Brent Crude oil nudged up to $52 per barrel. Gold retreated 0.4% to $1,287 per ounce.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

On Wall Street, stock markets were stable as investors regained confidence following weaker market conditions earlier this month caused by geopolitical tensions with North Korea and political drama in Washington.

At 4.30pm UK time, the Dow Jones was up 0.65% at 21,843 and the S&P 500 was 0.7% ahead at 2,445.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

Back on the UK market, housebuilder Persimmon (PSN) reported pre-tax profit up 30% to £457.4m in the first half of 2017. The stock ended the day 1.8% higher at £26.01.

Supermarket Tesco (TSCO) jumped 4.1% to 184.2p on various data reports from research groups which showed the company has enjoyed good trading in recent weeks.

Miner Antofagasta had a strong first half with revenue up 41.9% at $2.049bn, due to stronger copper prices and a 14.3% increase in sales volumes. Investors were pleased with the positive results, marking the shares 1.9% higher to 973.5p.

Elsewhere in the mining sector, BHP Billiton swung into the black in the year to the end of June with a profit of $5.9bn against a loss of $6.4bn last year. The company also announced plans to sell its onshore US assets, driving the stock 2.1% higher to £13.94.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Among the mid-caps, oil services firm Wood Group (WG.) was resilient at 573p despite operational profit falling 32.1% to $72m in the six months to 30 June 2017.

Cairn Energy (CNE) enjoyed a 3.5% lift to 180.2p after swinging into profit following strong progress across its business in the first half of the year. The oil and gas explorer reported $314m profit, up from a loss of $38m last time.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Hostelworld (HSW) returned to growth due to the strength of the core Hostelworld brand, which now represents 92% of total bookings. Adjusted pre-tax profit rose to €10.3m, up from €7.7m. The stock jumped 16.1% to 335p.

News from Ortac Resources (OTC) that its Casa Mining venture commenced exploration drilling operations at the 1.5m ounce Akyanga deposit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo triggered a share price jump of 15.3% to 3.5p. Ortac owns 22.2% of Casa.

Sphere Medical (SPHR) dived 79.1% to 1.2p after saying that it wanted to delist from AIM.