Market Report: Ukrainian government throws another spanner in the gas works

The government decreed on Saturday that major Ukrainian industrial companies must buy their gas from state-owned operator Naftogaz for the next three month

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The Independent Online

Doing business in the Ukraine isn’t getting any easier. JKX Oil & Gas fell more than 15 per cent yesterday after it revealed the Ukrainian government has once again thrown a spanner in the works.

The government decreed on Saturday that major Ukrainian industrial companies must buy their gas from state-owned operator Naftogaz for the next three months. Several of those on the list were previously JKX customers and the energy company warned that the changes could cut its sales in the country in half. It’s the second time the Ukrainian government has scuppered the company, having doubled the tax on gas production in August. JKX Oil & Gas lost 5p to 22.5p.

With commodity and oil prices on the slide, the FTSE 100 tumbled 66.25 points to 6,656.37. Vodafone dropped 6.75p to 227.2p after reports that it could be interested in a blockbuster deal for Virgin Media-owner Liberty Global. Investors are concerned Vodafone could overpay for the company.

InterContinental Hotel Group tumbled 102p to 2,608p after UBS told investors to sell on valuation grounds, arguing revenue per room is unlikely to get much better.

Sports Direct jumped 10.5p to 671p as Numis’ Andrew Wade upgraded the discount sports retailer to a ‘‘buy’’ and set a bullish 850p target price.

Markets were betting on a crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals, but an upset helped the bookies. The Responsible Gaming report was delivered yesterday but had no concrete recommendations on the casino-style gaming machines. Bookmakers had feared a cap on wagers as low as £2 a go, a far cry from the current £100 a pop that can be staked. The leniency sent William Hill jumping 12.2p to 347.2p, while Ladbrokes improved 1.2p to 112.5p.

Majestic Wine was up 22p to 390p in strong volumes, with chatter in the market about a possible private equity bid interest around £5 a share.

Deutsche Bank threw its weight behind chemical specialist Croda, arguing that easing currency pressure and improvement in its consumer care division mean it is likely to return to growth. Croda climbed 112p to 2566p.

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