StockMarketWire.com - FTSE indices closed up with gains in property and utility companies offsetting weakness elsewhere as investors calmed their concerns over a banks-sector probe by a UK watchdog.

Shire (SHP) rose 3.94% to 4995.5p as it and AbbVie confirmed they have reached agreement on the terms of a recommended combination. Shire shareholders will be entitled to receive £24.44 in cash for each share and 0.8960 New AbbVie Shares.

At 5 p.m., the FTSE 100 was up 11.13 points, or 0.17%, to 6749.45, while the FTSE 250 added 2.83 points, or 0.02%, to 15,556.8.

In the US, the Dow rose 98 points to 17,075, the Nasdaq added 50 points to 4413 and the S&P 500 gained 15 points to 1973. In Asia, the Nikkei closed down 154 points at 15,216 and the Hang Seng was off 66 points at 23,455.

Commercial property titans enjoyed an uptick, led by British Land (BLND), up 2.43% to 718p, and followed by Hammerson (HMSO) and Land Securities (LAND). Utility outfits also rattled up the pipes with Severn Trent (SVT) adding 2.12% to 1926p, followed by Centrica (CNA) and United Utilities (UU.)

Banks recouped early weakness after a damning report from the Financial Conduct Authority over failures in retail banking and small business lending. UK markets watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority is calling for a probe into the current account and small business lending markets.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) fell 1.36% to 319.3p. TSB Bank (TSB) was flat at 284.75p, HSBC (HSBA) was stable at 599.2p. Standard Chartered (STAN) added 0.08% to 1209p and Lloyds Banking (LLOY), however, rose 0.34% to 73.42p.

Increased tensions in Ukraine and Gaza spooked markets overnight and set the scene for early falls in London. Several miners retreated with industrial metals; Rio Tinto (RIO) lost 0.62% to 3294.5p and Lonmin (LMI) eased 0.74% to 227.8p.

Insurers were led down by Prudential (PRU) and Admiral (ADM), while oil-sector firms were also weaker, led by Wood Group (WG.) and BP (BP.).

Airline groups were mixed after the bringing down of the Malaysian Airways jet over Ukraine yesterday. easyJet (EZJ) fell 0.52% to 1348p, while Ryanair (RYA) eased 1.32% to 6.73p. International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) lost 0.24% to 329.9p.

BIGGER MOVERS

LED lighting kit designer PhotonStar LED (PSL:AIM) is raising £2.2m working capital in a share placing at 7p, a rough 7% discount to yesterday’s 7.5p close. The shares slid 15% to 6.38p with a threat of revenues moving to the right in an accompanying veiled warning.

Brain health specialist IXICO (IXI:AIM) jumped 9.38% to 52.5p on news that losses for the 16 months to October are expected to be lower than forecast on higher revenues and lower costs.

Ducat Ventures (DUC) posted operating losses of £57,643 for the six months to the end of May, down from £166,453 a year ago. Its shares fell 28.57% to 0.05p.

Ten pin bowling site operator Essenden (ESS:AIM) jumped 11.28% to 74p after reporting a 6.1% rise in like-for-like sales in the half year to 29 June. The company says interim results, to be announced in September, will show ‘significant growth’ in ebit.

Home shopping-to-education supplies firm Findel (FDL) rose 28.46% to 329.5p on a mixed trading update. Findel delivered a substantial improvement in profit over the seasonally-quiet opening 15 weeks of H1, though it concedes sales were lower due to timing differences. Sales will be more Q2 weighted and Findel still expected to hit FY profit forecasts. It confirmed Laurel Powers-Freeling had stepped down from the board at the close of the AGM today.

ECONOMIC NEWS

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the US increased 0.3%in June to 102.2 (2004 = 100), following a 0.7% increase in May, and a 0.3% increase in April.

US consumer sentiment fell according to the preliminary report for July by the University of Michigan. The reading of 81.3 was down from 82.5 and below forecasts of 83.5.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Private hospital operator Spire Healthcare (SPI) has priced its forthcoming IPO at 210p. This is the bottom of its range, valuing the business at £842.3m. Its shares were trading at 210.5p.

Satellites operator Avanti Communications (AVN:AIM) lost 5.38% to 217.63p despite telling the market it will post wider FY pretax losses than expected.

Irish logistics group DCC (DCC) dipped 0.06% to 3495p despite guiding for a 10%-12% rise in operating profit in the 12 months to March 2015 following a good Q1. Analysts will want to see evidence that the trend continues before tweaking their numbers.

A farm-out agreement over two licences in Northern Ireland saw AIM-quoted UK energy company InfraStrata (INFA:AIM) up 4.29% to 9.13p. The agreement will see Larne Oil & Gas take a 50% interest, joining JV partners Brigantes Energy and Terrain Energy, in return for funding Infrastrata’s costs on the drilling of the Woodburn Forest-1 well, expected around the end of the year and targeting about 40m barrels of oil.


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