Market Report: Investors in gold rush out of African Barrick

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The Independent Online

News of a high court claim against African Barrick Gold over the deaths of Tanzanians tarnished its shares on a day when it revealed $185m of cost cuts.

The struggling mid-cap gold miner has been accused of being complicit in the killing by police of at least six villagers in Tanzania during violence at one of its mines in May 2011.

African Barrick, which said it believes these "proceedings are without merit" and that it "intends to vigorously defend its interests", has a lot on its plate and investors headed for the exit even though it set out plans to address its financial problems. The shares were marked down 5.4p to 111.4p as it revealed $727m (£475m) of write-downs.

The company has been hit by the falling gold price, and although gold has picked up again in the past month, African Barrick's shares are still down more than 75 per cent since the start of the year.

The write-downs relate to a reduction in the value of its mines after it completed an operating review this year. It has now confirmed cost-cutting plans that will include closing its Buzwagi mine in Tanzania in less than four years.

Its second-quarter results were positive, with production and costs beating market expectations. But until there are signs of improvement in profits, the City will remain unconvinced. Investec's Hunter Hillcoat rated African Barrick a hold with a 135p price target.

The FTSE 100 failed to get past the 6,600 "sticking point" that City analysts have noted as a hurdle at the moment, but it still rose 10.7 points to 6,570.95.

A clutch of strong corporate results helped push the market on and the car and plane engineer GKN drove up 21.4p to 348.5p after it reported first-half pre-tax profits 5 per cent higher at £278m.

Broadcaster ITV rallied 9.9p to 167p when chief executive Adam Crozier raised the dividend and said advertisers will continue to spend.

Engineer Weir reported a 14 per cent drop in pre-tax profit but reiterated its full-year guidance and the shares were up 87p to 2,164p.

News that Centrica is poised to become the biggest gas supplier to America's East Coast powered it up 8p to 385.8p. The deal to buy Hess's energy marketing business for around £500m comes ahead of its first-half numbers today.

The American business will become part of Centrica's US operation, Direct Energy, making that "the largest business gas supplier on the US East Coast and second-largest business power supplier in the retail market," Liberum Capital said. The broker added that the deal means Centrica is on track to double its North American profit in the medium term. Liberum's Peter Atherton rated the group a buy but said he needed "more financial information" before deciding on the value of the deal.

The outgoing BT boss and incoming trade minister Lord Livingston has sold more than a million shares that vested under a bonus plan and the telecoms giant ticked up 5.5p to 342.1p.

Barclays confirmed a £5.8bn rights issue and was the worst performer among the blue chips for a second day. The bank was down 17.75p to 291.3p.

Telecoms giant Vodafone confirmed its planned takeover offer for Kabel Deutschland and analysts at Citi said they "still see a 65 per cent chance" of a deal with its US partner Verizon in the next year. Vodafone rose 0.7p to 195.1p.

On the mid-cap index, the bank International Personal Finance reported a record first-half profit and a share buyback and it gained 82p to 647p.

The set-top box maker Pace said profit in the first half more than tripled and it produced a 33.2p gain to 310.9p.

First-half results at the coal-fired power producer Drax were in line with expectations and it rose 8p to 639.5p.

The small-cap luxury car dealership HR Owen confirmed it has rejected a bid from the Philippines investment group Berjaya. The shares reversed 1.5p to 137.5p.

AIM-listed Conroy Gold and Natural Resources was 0.175p better at 2.07p on positive test results.

The oil and gas wellhead specialist Plexus Holdings said its full-year results will be ahead of expectations and it jetted 21.5p to 245p.