Markets opened slightly lower this morning after a mixed Asian session overnight, following a continuation of the Greek bailout fears that were largely the topic of yesterday’s commentary. The pull-back was however modest and the European indices remained near six-month highs despite a lack of negotiation developments and protests against austerity on the streets of Athens.
Xstrata was one of the bigger fallers today, with investors slightly disappointed about the premium offered by its suitor Glencore in the $90 billion merger. The deal will see Xstrata shareholders getting 2.8 Glencore shares, which at one stage was equivalent to a 15.2% premium to Xstrata’s share price, something that was not considered sufficient by many analysts. Shares in both parties were down today, lowering the premium even further as Xstrata lost 4.8% and Glencore lost by 3.5% to finish at 1200p and 443p respectively.
Better than expected results from BP were somewhat overshadowed by concerns that technical problem had temporarily halted gas exports from its natural gas platform in Shah Deniz, Azerbaijan. In conjunction with 2011 4Q and full year results, the group alluded to operational momentum and strong cash flow generation as justification for raising the dividend for the first time since the Gulf of Mexico disaster. Shares in the UKs second largest Energy group were down 0.6% to 486.5p by the close of trade.
Having reached its lows around midday (losing almost 1%), the FTSE 100 put on gains towards the end of trade to finish just 2 points lower than its open representing a negligible loss for the day.