The FTSE 100 faced a sluggish start to the week, held back by financial and mining stocks. London’s leading stock market — which hit a record closing high of 7,382.90 last week — was trading at 7,348.79 towards the end of the morning session.
Royal Bank of Scotland shed 4½p to 242½p during the first few hours of trading. Barclays endured a tough start, losing 3¼p to 228p, while Lloyds Banking Group fell 1¼p to 67¼p.
Miners were also under pressure as copper prices fell again. Anglo American led the way, dipping 25½p to £12.47, while Fresnillo fell 24p to £13.89 and Rio Tinto lost 42½p to £32.97½. Glencore was trading down 4¼p, at 334p, while BHP Billiton slipped 15p to £13.47½.
WPP, the advertising giant, continued to fall after the warning last week from Sir Martin Sorrell, its chief executive, that Britain’s exit from the European Union would be “hard and slow”. Brokers scrambled to respond to its lower forecasts this morning, lining up to cut their target prices. Shares slipped 33p to £17.26.
Standard Life dominated the FTSE, its shares rising sharply after it confirmed its £11 billion all-share merger with Aberdeen Asset Management. The shares climbed 22½p — almost 6 per cent — to 401p. It was the first time that they had passed the £4 mark in more than a year.
In the mid-caps Aberdeen performed well — up 14p to 300p. It was only beaten to the top of the leaderboard by Ultra Electronics, the British defence group, which shot up to a record high after announcing a jump in revenues. It gained 120p, or 6 per cent, to £21.02.
The FTSE 250 was broadly flat, slipping 11.88 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 18,870.98. Acacia Mining led the fallers — down more than 38p, or 8.3 per cent, to around 423p — after revealing on Friday that the Tanzanian ministry of energy and minerals was preventing it from exporting gold and copper concentrate. Jefferies downgraded the stock today from “buy” to “hold” and reduced its target from 575p to 475p.