Market Report: Evraz caught up by steel makers' gloom

Unlike Chelsea, Evraz's woes can't be solved by Roman Abramovich splashing the cash on new signings. The steel giant, which is controlled by the Russian billionaire, was left near the bottom of the table last night, closing at an all-time low, as doom and gloom continued to swirl around the sector.

The mood among the steel makers is certainly downbeat at the moment, with Britain's richest man, Lakshmi Mittal, last week announcing ArcelorMittal was considering slashing its capacity because of a drastic drop in European demand.

Late on Tuesday, Salzgitter became the latest bearer of bad news. The German company admitted it no longer believed its steel division would even turn a profit, warning that many "steel processors and stockholding steel traders are expecting business to stagnate".

For Evraz, the market reaction was brutal yesterday. It was knocked back 7.4p to 248.9p, its lowest yet since making its full London debut last November. Then, prospective investors had to fork out 320p a share – they could have saved nearly a quarter of that if they had waited until now.

Still, there is clearly still some confidence among Evraz's bosses who recently unveiled plans for $6bn (£3.85bn) of capital spending over the next four years thanks to confidence over the North American market.

It was encouraging economic data from the US that prompted the FTSE 100 to shoot up 76.96 points to 5,523.92 – its first rise for a week. The news helped those particularly exposed to the States, including building materials group CRH (46p stronger at 1,132p) and plumbers' merchant Wosleley (81p stronger at 2,294p).

Also doing the rounds was yet more speculation that the Chinese government could introduce new measures to boost the country's economy. Many of the commodity stocks were up, although Glencore retreated 4.4p to 298.3p amid fresh pressure for it to adjust the terms of its controversial merger with Anglo-Swiss miner Xstrata (10.8p higher at 796.6p).

Although traders were not hopeful ahead of today's European Union summit, the banks moved higher – Lloyds advanced 1.06p to 31.16p in the wake of talk it is nearing a sale of 630 branches to the Co-operative Group. Less well off was Barclays, although still shifted up 3.65p to 196.05p despite its £290m fine for Libor manipulation.

Meanwhile, rumour mill favourite Shire was still trying to recover from shedding 11 per cent on Monday as the pharmaceuticals group was lifted 14p to 1,812p.

Among the blue-chip losers, Tate & Lyle dipped 11p to 634.5p as it traded ex-dividend. The sweeteners manufacturers did have some good news to cheer after winning a US court battle that analysts calculated could net it more than £10m.

International Power's last day of trading was uneventful, with the energy group – which France's GDF Suez is taking full control of – edging up 0.1p to 417.5p. Pennon (up 8p to 768.5p) will be taking its place on the Footsie tomorrow.

The disaster of the day was Yule Catto. The speciality chemicals company was cut adrift at the bottom of the FTSE 250, slumping 38.9p to 138p, after warning currency volatility and poor demand for nitrile (which, for those that don't know, is used to make rubber gloves) would hit its profits.

Better-than-expected retail sales figures – put down to the Jubilee – brought some welcome news for the high street as Dixons and WH Smith climbed 0.6p to 17.84p and 17p to 534p.

The talk was, for once, relatively positive around Man Group. Encouraging figures from the hedge fund giant's flagship AHL fund prompted some to wonder whether it could be on the road to recovery, as the stock – which has been cut in half since March – ticked up 0.9p to 72.9p.

Back in 2010, and in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico tragedy, the Italian government decided to ban drilling for oil within five miles of the country's shore. That was not good news for Mediterranean Oil & Gas and its Ombrina Mare discovery in the Adriatic sea, believed to have reserves of 40 million barrels of oil.

Yesterday, however, the explorer spurted up 1.12p to 9.88p on Aim after its bosses said proposed changes to the ban would give a pass to licences issued before the ruling. Joint house broker Liberum Capital was certainly happy – it thinks Ombrina Mare could be worth 40p a share.

Comments