Market Report: The car insurance price war could be over

Investors drove into insurer Admiral yesterday as signs emerged the car insurance price war could be over.

Data from Confused.com and research firm Towers Watson found the drop in prices is easing so competitive pressures could be reduced. Traders were mobilised on the news and shares in Admiral rose 81p to 1,407p – top of the table. It led the pack of non-life insurers yesterday with RSA Insurance ahead 0.8p to 103p, FTSE 250-listed eSure 16.4p up at 284.5p and Direct Line rising 11.2p to 266.6p.

The market remained flat for much of the day but was held back by a profit warning from Shell (down 26.5p to 2,279.5p). The FTSE 100 managed to cling on to gains and advanced 13.88 points to 6,829.3.

The worst performer was bookie William Hill, which was hit by football results that did not go its way last week. It fell 12.6p to 360.1p.

RBS wasn't much better. Investec rated it a sell and argued that after a "19 per cent one-month spike" it was a good time to short the bank, saying it was unattractive because of its "painfully slow recovery in earnings and returns". It lost 7.8p to 363.7p.

The planned deal between Vodafone and cloud-computing firm Outsourcery has been finalised. It will allow Vodafone to resell Outsourcery's Microsoft-based cloud services to its global network. Vodafone rang up a 2.8p rise to 240p and Aim-listed Outsourcery picked up 2p to 120p.

FTSE 250 grocer Ocado fell 18.5p to 505p after Deutsche Bank analysts issued a sell note, warning of the growing issue of price competition and questioned whether its deal with Morrisons could be successfully replicated.

Electrical engineer Spectris said comparable sales for the fourth quarter were up 3 per cent, but it fell 69p to 2,413p after it warned about currency fluctuations. Fibre optic infrastructure specialist City Fibre advanced 5.5p to 65.5p on Aim debut.

US-focused Nostra Terra Oil & Gas confirmed new wells at its Chisholm Trail prospect in Oklahoma, edging 0.02p up to 0.285p. Leni Gas & Oil won approval from Trinidad to drill 30 wells at the Goudron Field and it jumped 0.105p to 0.86p.

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