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Why Standard Life Plc, Gulf Keystone Petroleum Limited and Salamander Energy Plc Should Lag The FTSE 100 Today

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) has started the week heading further down, thanks to a number of panics.

The budget deadlock threatening a US government shutdown is scaring the markets, as is the latest political crisis to hit Italy after ministers loyal to ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi withdrew from the coalition.

And then we have disappointing factory output news from China, which has sent mining shares down again. The result? A 57-point fall in the FTSE to 6,455 by early afternoon.

Individual companies  are having a tough day, too. Here are three from the FTSE indices whose shares are tumbling:

Standard Life

Standard Life (LSE: SL) shares took a 6.7p (2%) dip to 345p this morning on the day the life insurance firm told us it that its fund manager Standard Life Wealth had completed the acquisition of Newton Private Clients. The deal has resulted in a combined £5.5bn of assets under management, with 4,500 clients described as being of “net worth and ultra high net worth”.

Standard Life shares have fallen back from May’s highs of over 420p, but they’re still up nearly 25% since this time last year. For the year ending December 2013, there’s a 4.4% dividend yield forecast, though it will probably be covered by earnings only around 1.5 times.

Gulf Keystone Petroleum

Shares in Gulf Keystone Petroleum (LSE: GKP) took a hit today in response to the weekend’s news of an attack by suicide bombers on security forces in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, which killed six people.

Although Gulf Keystone told us today that its operations had not been affected by the incident and that its staff are all safe, the share price fell 6.8p (3.5%) to 188p. Thankfully such events in Erbil are rare, but it does help show the additional risks faced when you invest in parts of the world such as this.

Salamander Energy

Talking of risky oil and gas investments, Salamander Energy (LSE: SMDR) shares fell 13.8p (1.6%) this morning to 116p, taking the price down 40% over the past 12 months.

Perhaps ironically, the news from the company today was of a successful gas test in Thailand at the Pha Nok Khao reservoir as part of the group’s investigations into the Sinphuhorm field. The company told us that “the flow rate is commercial and is among the best production rates seen in the field“.

But at the same time, we heard that an exploration well at the offshore Ayutthaya prospect in the Gulf of Thailand has turned out dry and has been plugged and abandoned.

Finally, you can compensate for the day-to-day ups and downs of share prices by looking for reliable dividends. So how would you like a company that's offering a 5.5% yield and which could be set for some nice share-price appreciation, too?

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.