GOLD MINERS HELP FTSE 100 MAINTAIN GAINS

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LONDON (Alliance News) – Gold miners helped the FTSE 100 maintain most of the gains it made on Wednesday, when the index reached a new record closing high of 7,106.08, however, this was offset by large-cap stocks such as BT GroupDixons Carphone and Experian going ex-dividend.

The FTSE 100 was down 0.1%, or 5.04 points, at 7,101.04. The FTSE 250 was also down 0.1% at 18,001.81, and the AIM All-Share up 0.1% at 840.31.

The BATS UK 100 index was flat at 11,997.33, and the BATS 250 was up 0.1% at 16,360.50. The BATS Small Companies was flat at 10,653.06.

Miners continued to benefit following gold’s third consecutive day of gains. Fresnillo and Randgold Resources were the biggest gainers in the FTSE 100, up 2.5% and 2.0%, respectively. Hochschild Mining was up 5.4%, the best performer in the FTSE 250, and Polymetal International was up 3.7%.

The precious metal was firm Thursday midday, quoted at USD1,145.86 an ounce against USD1,139.35 an ounce at the London close.

Brent crude was at USD56.26 a barrel Thursday midday, compared to USD56.39 a barrel at the close on Wednesday.

A number of large and mid-cap stocks went ex-dividend on Thursday, meaning new buyers no longer qualify for the latest dividend payouts. Electronics retailer Dixons Carphone was down 0.3%, telecoms giant BT Group was down 0.9%, and data services company Experian was down 0.5%.

The worst performers in the FTSE 250 were ex-dividend stocks, with plastic products design company RPC Group down 0.7%.

InterContinental Hotels Group was up 0.6%, despite confirming news it is investigating into a possible credit card information breach at some of its hotels in the US.

IHG in a statement said: “IHG takes the protection of payment card data very seriously. We were made aware of a report of unauthorized charges occurring on some payment cards that were recently used at a small number of US-based hotel locations. We immediately launched an investigation, which includes retaining a leading computer security firm to provide us with additional support. We continue to work with the payment card networks.”

On AIM, Alpha Pyrenees Trust was up 31% following its sale of a vacant warehouse in Zaragoza, Spain for EUR370,000, with net proceeds to be used to reduce its bank borrowings. The sale forms part of an orderly realisation process, which will not result in any return to shareholders after repayment of Alpha Pyrenees’s bank borrowings has taken place, the trust added.

MySQUAR was up 19% after the group said it has fully launched the game ChakraNinja, while its CallHome application was soft-launched earlier this week. MySQUAR expects its ChakraNinja game, which is based on Japanese manga comic character Naruto, to benefit from the existing user base of other games and the chat and social networking application of MySQUAR. Meanwhile, the group said its CallHome VoIP application, or Voice over Internet Protocol application, has the potential to “become a major revenue earner”, following its soft-launch this week.

Elsewhere, UK house price inflation accelerated slightly at the close of the year, while price growth in London was below the national average for the first time in eight years, survey results from the Nationwide Building Society showed.

The house price index rose 4.5% year-on-year following a 4.4% increase in November. Compared to the previous month, prices climbed 0.8% in December after remaining flat in the previous month. London house prices rose 3.7% year-on-year, which was much less than the 12.2% climb witnessed in 2015. The figure was below the UK average for the first time since 2008.

“Nationwide predict that the UK economy will slow modestly next year, which they believe will likely result in a less robust labour-market and modestly slower house-price growth,” said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at CFD provider XTB. “Housebuilders have seen no clear reaction in their market value to the news, with Barratt Developments slightly lower and Taylor Wimpeyrising.”

Barratt Developments was down 3.4%, while Taylor Wimpey was up 0.4%.

The pound remained firm after the housing price data, quoted at USD1.2255 Thursday midday, compared to USD1.2223 at the London equities close on Wednesday.

In Europe, the CAC 40 index in Paris was down 0.2%, while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt was down 0.3%.

Futures pointed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq Composite to a flat open on Wall Street.

In the economic calendar, US initial and continuing jobless claims and the US goods trade balance are both at 1330 GMT.

By Lucy Heming; lucyheming@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2016 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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