The shine well and truly came off Petra Diamonds as it was hit by lower prices amid weak demand in China and political unrest in Hong Kong.
Shares fell 12.4 per cent, or 1.33p, to 9.37p – taking losses over the past five years to over 90 per cent – after it reported a 6 per cent slide in first half revenues to £149million.
The diamond industry has been grappling with slowing demand due to anti-government protests in Hong Kong and a bruising trade dispute between China and the US.
Sparkler: The diamond industry has been grappling with slowing demand due to anti-government protests in Hong Kong and a bruising trade dispute between China and the US
Some observers have also blamed the emergency of laboratory-grown diamonds.
However, Petra said it will meet or exceed full-year production targets. It said production increased by 3 per cent to 2,070,240 carats for the six-month period to December 31.
Petra hailed sales of the exceptional blue diamond from its flagship Cullinan mine, but said this was offset by price decline and poor quality diamonds from its Finsch mine in South Africa.
The Cullinan mine is the world’s main source of rare blue diamonds. The firm sold a 20.08 carat blue diamond recovered from Cullinan in September for £11.4million.
Fresh engine trouble pushed Rolls-Royce stock down 3.3 per cent, or 21.4p, to 636.6p.
Stock Watch – Nektan
Gaming technology company Nektan resumed trading yesterday after finally releasing its annual results.
Shares had been suspended since the beginning of the year, as it was unable to release its results by the December 31 deadline because one of its subsidiaries had fallen into administration.
But revenue for the year to June 30 2019 had climbed 13.5 per cent to £22.6million, although losses widened from £7million to £9.2million amid a shake-up.
Shares edged up 12.7 per cent, or 0.35p, to 3.1p.
Long-running problems with its Trent 1000 engines have already grounded a number of aircraft.
And now the European safety regulator, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, has raised new concerns about older engines fitted to Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
The upshot is that 787s with older Trent 1000s must replace one of the engines with a newer one.
‘The Trent 1000 program has been like whack-a-mole for Rolls-Royce,’ said Nick Cunningham, an analyst at Agency Partners in London. ‘They address one problem and another one crops up.’
Citigroup also cut its price target on Rolls to 1080p from 1212p.
Only a handful of blue-chip stocks escaped a major sell-off as fears over the deadly coronavirus sent shares around the world into a tailspin.
The FTSE 100 index closed down 2.3 per cent, or 173.93 points, to 7412.05 points, while the FTSE 250 fell 2.1 per cent, or 460.27 points, to 21,303.67.
Of the blue chips that did make gains, NMC Health was up 0.9 per cent, or 12.5p, to 1360p, BT edged 0.5 per cent, or 0.92p, higher to 171.92p, Polymetal added 0.2 per cent, or 3p, to 1269p and Paddy Power owner Flutter put on 0.1 per cent, or 8p, to 8896p.
Astrazeneca shares fell 2.1 per cent, or 159p, to 7500p after the pharma company said it was taking back an experimental drug to treat Crohn’s disease and inflammation in the digestive system.
The company licensed the rights to brazikumab to Allergan in 2016, in a deal that saw the firm pay £191million up front and promise further instalments worth up to £1billion.
But Allergan is now being merged with US pharma firm Abbvie and so is shedding assets to placate regulators.
Despite its return to Astrazeneca, Allergan has agreed to continue funding development costs for brazikumab, Astra said.
Hours later, rival Glaxosmithkline also said it had licensed the rights to a tuberculosis vaccine candidate to the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute for further development. Its shares fell 2.2 per cent, or 40.2p, to 1782.6p.
Private hospital operator Spire Healthcare will not be left on the hook for payouts over alleged unnecessary shoulder operations at one of its sites, the company said.
A total of 217 patients have been contacted over treatment by surgeon Habib Rahman at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull for a review, which could lead to compensation claims. However, Spire said: ‘Claims arising as a result of this process should be met by Mr Rahman and his insurance.’
Shares fell 1.5 per cent, or 2p, to 132p.
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