Shares in Glasgow engineering giant Weir Group surged nearly seven per cent in early trading after it signalled plans to exit activity supporting the oil and gas industry, after a hefty write-down on its North American business dragged it into the red last year.

Weir slumped to a £372 million loss for 2019 after being hobbled by a steep downturn in shale gas activity across the Atlantic, which led to it slashing around 600 jobs. A £546m charge was made in its accounts to reflect the “ongoing market dynamics”.

Weir chief executive Jon Stanton stated the company’s focus now is to become a “pure play” mining technology business, noting that “we are looking for opportunities to maximise value from the oil and gas division at the right time”.

Mr Stanton said: “North American oil and gas market conditions deteriorated significantly through the year and we undertook a major cost reduction programme in response. 

"While the long-term prospects for shale remain positive, current market dynamics mean it now has a very different investment case to our premium mining technology positions. 

"We are therefore taking actions so that we can maximise value for shareholders whenever the right opportunity is identified.”