Uncertainty About Russia-Ukraine Talks Gives Investors Pause for Thought

The FTSE 100 struggled for direction this morning as investors paused to take stock of the outcome of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, which dragged the index higher yesterday.

London’s leading stock market was flat by mid-morning, up just 6.40 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7,543.62, while the FTSE 250, which rallied 2 per cent yesterday, retreated 256.04p, or 1.2 per cent, to 21,236.70.

Firmer metal prices provided a boost to London’s listed miners, which came under heavy selling pressure yesterday. Anglo American was the best performer out of the miners, recovering 101p, or 2.7 per cent, to £39.02 while Glencore added 12p, or 2.5 per cent, to 493p and Rio Tinto improved 143p, or 2.5 per cent, to £59.88. The increase in oil prices has also helped stocks, with Shell and BP up 65p, or 3.2 per cent, to £20.87 and 8¼p, or 2.2 per cent, to 379¾p respectively. In the mid-caps, Energean was the top riser, up 32p, or 2.9 per cent, to £11.37.

The gains were offset by companies such as Experian, which fell 88p, or 2.9 per cent, to £29.80 after Citigroup downgraded the global data company’s shares from “buy” to “neutral” as analysts warned that growth of Experian’s North American business is likely to face headwinds next year amid a potential fall in US housing transactions. Melrose, the engineering conglomerate, suffered profit-taking as it fell 4p, or 2.8 per cent, to 130p, having jumped as part of the wider European rally yesterday.

Shares in Pearson tumbled 90p, or 11.4 per cent, to 695p after the private equity giant Apollo ended attempts at a takeover of the FTSE 100 textbook publisher, having failed to agree on a price. Earlier this month Pearson was forced to disclose that it secretly rejected two tentative cash takeover bids of £6.1 billion and then £6.5 billion from Apollo, saying that both undervalued the group.

Shares in Polymetal, the Russian gold miner that has been battered over the past month, advanced 50p, or 14.4 per cent, to 388p after it said that it had resumed gold sales in Russia. Shipments had initially been hit when logistics providers terminated agreements.

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Uncertainty about Russia-Ukraine talks gives investors pause for thought