Market Report: Oil was in demand as Shell’s profit dip turned out less than was feared

Investors cheered Ben van Beuren’s work at Shell yesterday, as the oil giant reported a smaller than expected fall in profits.

The company announced a 45 per cent dip in first-quarter earnings to $4.54bn (£2.8bn), due to heavy writedowns, but the figure still beat analysts’ expectations after a profit warning in January.

Mr van Beuren reaffirmed his commitment to managing costs and said management was “making hard choices on Shell’s assets and options”. Shell welled up 89p to 2,520p, with investors also pleased by a 4 per cent rise in its dividend.

Oil was much in demand  after a glut of activity in the sector. Tullow Oil’s sale of majority stakes in two North Sea assets helped it to put on 14.5p to 880p, while the buyer, Faroe Petroleum, was up 3.5p at 145.62p.

A near billion-pound approach on Heritage Oil, up 59.6p to 315.2p, by the Qataris also boosted many explorers and producers. Ophir Energy climbed 12.4p to 263.6p, Afren added 4.2p to 157.5p, Eland Oil & Gas was 6.5p higher at 128.25p and Seplat was up 5.5p at 238.5p.

The retail bellwether and investor favourite Next was on form, rising 35p to 6,520p after upgrading its full-year profit forecast by £20m and trumpeting a 10.8 per cent rise in first-quarter sales.  

The engine-maker Rolls-Royce revved up 29p to 1,050p after confirming it is in talks with Siemens over a possible £900m sale of its energy business. Proceeds will fund the £1.8bn purchase of Daimler’s 50 per cent stake in their power joint venture, a deal announced last month.

The FTSE 100 was 10.12 points higher at 6,780.03, pegged back by companies trading ex-dividend, including Tesco, Admiral and G4S.

British American Tobacco also weighed on the index, down 70p to 3,417p, after revealing a 12 per cent decline in first- quarter revenue.

Playtech, the FTSE 250 provider of casino and gaming software, stepped up 28.5p to 667p on the back of a a 17.4 per cent rise in first-quarter revenue.

The Aim-listed business app builder Globo climbed 8.5p to 55p, as profits rose 59.3 per cent.

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