Market Report: Bad news gives oil explorers a battering
It was not a good day for the oil explorers, large and small. While a failure in the Falklands saw Aim-listed minnow Borders & Southern drop 70 per cent yesterday, blue-chip giant Tullow Oil was another knocked back by drilling disappointment.
The group closed last night as one of the worst fallers on the Footsie after announcing it had stopped drilling its Jaguar-1 well off the shore of Guyana thanks to safety concerns. Although Tullow did uncover some oil, the news it was plugging and abandoning the well prompted it to dive 47p to 1,386p.
While there were claims the move was overdone, the description of the well as "high pressure [and] high temperature" did prompt some to point out it was the same type as BP's well at the centre of the Gulf of Mexico tragedy in 2010.
Tullow's decline was nothing compared to that suffered by Borders & Southern, however. Punters in the Falkland Islands-explorer were left squealing with pain after it admitted its Stebbing well had only found gas, and even then not enough for it to be commercial.
The disappointing update, in which the company also revealed technical problems had stopped it drilling as deep as hoped, saw it slump a huge 44.25p to 18p. Its fellow Falkland drillers were also weaker, with Falkland Oil & Gas and Rockhopper retreating 6.75p to 79.5p and 32p to 222.75p.
Borders' fall left it even further away from April's all-time high of 131p, which it reached on rumours of impending bullish drilling results before losing a third of its value the next day after revealing it had found gas condensate instead of oil.
The pain didn't stop there for the explorers – Kazakhstan-focused Max Petroleum moved down 0.21p to 2.94p after admitting it needed further cash to complete the drilling of its NUR-1 well and Cove Energy was driven back 37.5p to 238p by Royal Dutch Shell (7.5p higher at 2,300p) pulling out of the bid battle for the Mozambique-focused group, with the 240p-a-share offer from Thailand's PTT the only one left standing.
A sedate session for the FTSE 100 saw it finish a mere 3.7 points weaker at 5,662.43, with many waiting to see if US Fed boss Ben Bernanke's testimony to Congress later this week will contain any clues on the likelihood of further quantitative easing.
In its worst fall since it came to light last week that the security services company would not be able to fulfil its Olympics contract, G4S was smacked back 24.1p to 254.6p after scribb lers from Panmure Gordon, Numis Securities, Seymour Pierce and UBS all decided they should remove their "buy" recommenda tions.
Resolution's climb of 5.9p to 218.3p was accompanied by market gossips reviving vague speculation that Clive Cowdery's insurance conglomerate could be interested in another move for Phoenix. The life insurer advanced 17.4p to 510p on the FTSE 250, although traders were playing down the reheated rumours. Still, there has been support towards the idea recently – earlier in the month Berenberg's Matthew Preston argued the "tie-up makes the most strategic sense".
Barclays – which last week extended its sponsorship of the Premier League until 2016 – fell 4.45p to 157.37p to set a new post-Libor scandal low. This was despite the efforts of Investec's Ian Gordon, who said it was "fighting a war against prejudice and ignorance" and advised investors to keep "the faith, buy the shares".
Vodafone ticked up 1.95p to 184.83p following reports claiming a £2.9bn dividend payout from the mobile phone giant's US joint venture Verizon Wireless could be green-lit this week.
Activist investor Bill Ackman's recent decision to buy a stake in US consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) was highlighted as bullish for Marmite-owner Unilever by Liberum Capital's Pablo Zuanic. He claimed a "pruned P&G... should increase the pressure on Unilever to divest a large chunk of its food business" as the group crept up 2p to 2,144p.
After watching the miner's shares jump 75 per cent to rise above 3p during trading, bosses at Noventa were forced to put out a statement claiming ignorance regarding the move, although by the bell it was still 0.18p better off at 1.92p on Aim.
FTSE 100 Risers
International Airlines Group 160p (up 4.2p, 2.7 per cent) British Airways owner finishes high up the blue-chip leaderboard on what was expected to be a record day for traffic at Heathrow.
Smiths Group 1,052p (up 15p, 1.45 per cent) Engineer is one of the top risers after announcing it has managed to get rid of its minority stake in Cross Match Technologies for up to $77m (£49.29m).
FTSE 100 Fallers
Sage 276p (down 9p, 3.16 per cent) Accountancy software group retreats as Numis Securities' analysts downgrade their advice to "hold" in reaction to the release of its third-quarter update.
Burberry 1,207p (down 22p, 1.79 per cent) Luxury brand knocked back after the scribes from UBS reveal they have cut their target price on the stock to 1,290p from 1,450p and kept their "neutral" rating.
FTSE 250 Risers
FirstGroup 200p (up 10.3p, 5.43 per cent) Public transport company drives higher up the mid-tier index as the Government reveals a £9.4bn investment programme for the UK's rail network.
Britvic 280.6p (up 7.5p, 2.75 per cent) Despite advancing for a third straight day, soft drinks maker has still lost more than 16 per cent since announcing earlier in the month a recall of its Fruit Shoots drinks.
FTSE 250 Fallers
Petropavlovsk 439.9p (down 21.7p, 4.7 per cent) Gold digger retreats after analysts from Goldman Sachs slash their target price on the stock by 460p to 520p while reiterating their "neutral" recommendation.
Kenmare Resources 32.47p (down 1.24p, 3.68 per cent) Irish miner continues its recent decline, with the group's share price now having lost nearly 18 per cent since the start of the month.
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