Market Report: Miner Aquarius Platinum breaks losing run at last

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The Independent Online

As losing streaks go, 11 sessions in a row is a pretty lengthy one. That is how long Aquarius Platinum had gone without managing to rise, during which time it lost more than a third of its share price, until finally yesterday the bargain-hunters were tempted back in.

Problems in Zimbabwe, including a fire at its Mimosa mine, have been a major driver behind its massive fall. However, the bounce came as the miner finally managed to produce some good news from the country, from where the platinum producer gets more than a fifth of its output.

Interference from the government has been spooking investors, with Aquarius' joint venture Mimosa Holdings struggling earlier in the year with demands that 51 per cent of foreign miners must be owned by Zimbabweans.

Last week came fresh cause to worry amid reports that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had told banks in the country not to process export payments by Zimplats – which is 87 per cent owned by South African miner Impala Platinum – because of an apparent failure to bank locally.

Yesterday Aquarius moved to soothe the City's nerves by saying Mimosa had already complied with the order and therefore it was not at risk of facing a similar fate. In response the digger powered up 5.95p to 74p, although it has still lost over 60 per cent in little more than four months.

It was also being helped by a rise in the price of platinum – the value of which has plummeted in recent years – as well as some vague speculation Aquarius' dramatic fall could make it attractive as a possible takeover target.

With markets shut on Wall Street and in a number of European countries, traders were left twiddling their thumbs. Initial gains, following opinion polls over the weekend showing increasing support for pro-bailout politicians in Greece,were almost all gone by the bell as the FTSE 100 crept up 4.81 points to 5,356.34.

Among the stocks losing altitude was International Airlines Group. The British Airways-owner crashed down 3.8p to 137.1p, thanks to fears that the struggling Spanish bank Bankia may sell its 12 per cent stake in the carrier.

AstraZeneca's low valuation means the drugs giant has found itself the subject of takeover talk recently, and Exane BNP Paribas' Stephen McGarry was adding to the conversation yesterday. Suggesting the pharma group, which is facing the expiry of more and more of its patents, could slim down by slashing spending on marketing as well as research and development, the scribbler added that following this route may make Astra "an attractive M&A target". The shares nonethless fell 14p to 2,617.5p.

Despite the recent heatwave, the dreadful weather that preceded it – and the effec ts on DIY fans – meant concerns ahead of Kingfisher's trading update on Thursday saw the B&Q-owner drop 5p to 274.9p. Also, Resolution dipped 2.9p to 199.5p following reports over the weekend claiming the insurance group was mulling over a possible move for Dutch bank Rabobank's asset management business Robeco.

Kesa Electricals may have lost more than half of its share price since Knight Vinke first started building a stake in the retailer back in 2010, but that hasn't dissuaded the activist investor. Yesterday it was revealed the asset management firm now held in excess of a quarter of the former Comet owner, which moved up 1.42p to 49.14p, having bought over a million more shares.

This month has seen Knight Vinke increase its holding a number of times, starting on 8 May when it snapped up roughly 2.7 million shares, and given Kesa closed that day at 54.95p, it suggests that purchase has lost around £150,000 in value since.

Down on Aim, Magnolia Petroleum spurted up 0.5p to 2.45p amid hopes the tiddler will soon reveal results from its Thomason well in the States.

Elsewhere among the explorers, DEO Petroleum surged 5.75p higher to 26.75p after agreeing to be bought by Parkmead (1.75p worse off at 13p) for roughly £12.7m.

Ithaca Energy edged 1p lower to 176p despite production starting at its Athena field. Investors are still waiting for news on its potential takeover talks, with the company saying earlier in the month there would be an update within a matter of weeks.

Meanwhile, YCO Group was sinking rapidly. The supplier of what it calls "services to the super-yacht community" had nearly 60 per cent of its value wiped off, diving 4.25p to 3p, on the announcement that it intends to delist from the junior market.

FTSE 100 Risers

* Capita 629p (up 18p, 2.95 per cent) Outsourcing giant finishes high up the leaderboard after being helped by scribblers from UBS deciding to upgrade their rating on the company to "buy" from "neutral".

* Tullow Oil 1,432p (up 37p, 2.65 per cent) Energy explorer continues to move higher in the wake of its announcement late on Friday that it has come across more oil in its Ngamia-1 well in Kenya.

FTSE 100 Fallers

* BP 399.7p (down 7.65p, 1.88 per cent) Energy giant slides after billionaire Mikhail Fridman quits as the chief executive of TNK-BP, its joint venture with Russian conglomerate Alfa-Access-Renova.

* Severn Trent 1,680p (down 21p, 1.23 per cent) Water utility finishes the session in the red as it prepares for the publication of its preliminary results, which are expected to be released tomorrow.

FTSE 250 Risers

* Aveva 1,638p (up 157p, 10.6 per cent) Software company shoots to the top of the FTSE 250 after managing to beat expectations with its final results and raising its final dividend by 14 per cent.

* Cape 225.7p (up 20.7p, 10.1 per cent) Industrial services group attempts a rebound, having seen its share price lose more than a third on Friday after it released a profits warning.

FTSE 250 Fallers

* Essar Energy 109p (down 5.6p, 4.89 per cent) Oil group slumps to the foot of the mid-tier index despite Morgan Stanley deciding to keep its "overweight" recommendation on the stock.

* Cable & Wireless Communications 31.13p (down 0.37p, 1.17 per cent) Telecoms company falls for the second straight day after having shot up nearly 18 per cent on Thursday in response to its final results.