A disappointing week showed few signs of improvement after BP became the only oil major that analysts urged clients to sell.
JP Morgan downgraded the stock to ‘underweight’ from ‘neutral’ and reduced the price target to 550p from 615p.
It came a day after BP posted profits of £2.7bn in the three months to the end of September, a sharp drop from the £6.8bn posted a year earlier.
The US investment bank said BP’s third-quarter profit loss was “substantial.”
That meant that the oil company, unlike its peers Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total, was the only one that had a “sell” recommendation or equivalent.
Sell: JP Morgan downgraded BP shares to ‘underweight’ from ‘neutral’ and cut price target to 550p from 615p.
BP fell 1.6 per cent, or 8.2 pence, to 494.4 pence.
The FTSE 100 rose 0.3 per cent, or 20.71 points, to 7,342.43 and the FTSE 250 rose 0.6 per cent, or 102.84 points, to 17,185.89.
There was a double update of Vertu. The car dealership has strengthened its grip on the south west of England after buying a business that has been operating for more than 90 years. It will now own Rowes, which has four outlets and is a major Honda seller.
The London-listed company is currently in charge of 34 sites in the region.
It also said its Companies House records had been “falsely altered by a malicious actor” to show that some directors resigned while two others were hired.
Vertu insisted that none of the changes had occurred and was working to discover how the records were altered. The shares fell 0.3 per cent, or 0.2p, to 75.8p.
Smurfit Kappa welcomed signs that business was improving. The paper and packaging firm said demand for boxes fell 2 percent in the third quarter, having fallen 7 percent in the first and 5 percent in the second.
Stock Watch – Equal Group
Equals Group rose 13.7 per cent, or 14p, to 116.5p as the fintech company became a takeover target after it identified two potential buyers who could take it private.
It helps companies make payments and, in the process of a strategic review, has contacted two groups to see if they could offer a proposal that would “deliver greater value” to shareholders.
“Any such proposal could include an offer for all of the issued and to-be-issued share capital,” he said.
The company’s rice shares rose 0.6 per cent, or 16 pence, to 2,700 pence.
The company behind National Express, Mobico, fell 1 per cent, or 0.6p, to 61.9p, after Berenberg cut its price target from 140p to 100p.
Weir Group, the mining technology company, fell 0.47 per cent, or 8 pence, to 1,699 pence after its orders fell 2 per cent in the three months to the end of September.
It came as it appointed its next finance chief, Brian Puffer, who will start in April at the latest, to replace John Heasley, who is moving to Anglo American.
Engineer John Wood hired a new finance chief. Arvind Balan, who held the same position in Rolls-Royce’s civil aerospace business for the past two years. The shares rose 1.6 per cent, or 2.3p, to 144.2p.
AstraZeneca has partnered with clinical-stage biotech company Cellectis to develop cell therapies for patients with cancer and rare diseases.
Its shares rose 0.8 per cent, or 86 pence, to 10,336 pence yesterday. Halfords jumped 2.9 per cent, or 5.8 pence, to 206.4 pence after the bike and car retailer agreed to sell a 5 per cent stake in its automotive software business to global mobility company Bridgestone for £2.5 million.
Video games publisher Devolver Digital has bolstered its business by buying US peer System Era in a cash and stock deal worth up to £33m. Shares were steady at 25.5p.
Sopheon took a slight hit a day after it appeared the British software company would be bought for £115m by a US private equity-backed company.
The shares, which rose 88 per cent on Tuesday, fell 2.2 per cent, or 20 pence, to 900 pence.
A weak set of results for Sys Group saw the cloud hosting and IT services provider fall into the red.
The company made around £11m of revenue in the six months to the end of September, down slightly from £11.3m in the same period last year.
And profits of £1.6m fell short of the £1.7m it pocketed the previous year.
Sys Group fell 11.2 per cent, or 5p, to 39.5p.