Market Report: Rare solid perfomers carve out gains in a tough bear market


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The Independent Online

Investors piled into safe havens as activity in the US and Asia pulled the Footsie lower. A few solid performers in energy, gold mining and defence carved out gains in a tough bear market. British Gas-owner Centrica fared best, up 6.3p at 334.8p, while the oil and gas producer BG Group was close behind, up 5.5p at 1,141.5p.

But both were in the minority, as the blue-chip index suffered its biggest fall in three weeks. A run on tech stock on US and Asian markets and renewed fears of a house price “bubble” in the UK triggered a sell-off.

Housebuilders suffered: Barratt Development lost 20.5p to 389.4p, Taylor Wimpey dropped 4.4p to 113.6p, Persimmon was off 54p at 1,292p, Bovis fell 33.5p to 852p and Berkeley tumbled 97p to 2,484p. The FTSE 100 closed down 72.71 points at 6,622.84.

Tension between Russia and Ukraine also hit firms with exposure to the region. Roman Abramovich’s steel producer Evraz, which issues full-year results on Thursday, fell 4.2p to 75.7p, while the Ukraine-focused iron ore producer Ferrexpo lost 6.3p to 155.8p and ITE Group, which organises conferences in Russia, was 8.2p lighter at 195.8p.

On Aim, Quindell did brisk trade, ending the day up 4.75p at 43.75p. The company, which makes black boxes for cars to help insurers monitor how people drive, announced a £1bn joint venture with the RAC, Connected Car Solutions. The operation will pitch Quindell’s products to RAC’s 2.1 million customers.

Long-suffering Gulf Keystone Petroleum investors were lifted by the firm’s fundraising efforts. The Kurdistan-focused oil and gas explorer said late on Friday that it expects to close a $250m (£150m) debt offering this week.

The terms of the raising won’t be favourable: the equivalent of 5 per cent of the company’s equity will be offered to institutional backers as a sweetener. But the news follows speculation that the company was struggling to raise money at all, and Gulf Keystone welled up 8p to 105p.

JPMorgan upped its stake in Bowleven, the Africa-focused oil and gas explorer, which rose 1.25p to 31.5p. Market maker Winterflood backed the trade, which opened last week.