- FTSE indices marched higher in early deals, the mid cap continuing its resistance run-over, with a mix of financial and property stocks providing direction. Miners were generally lower, but oil stocks made tepid gains. Wall St and Asian markets ended higher.

News of the day was Telefonica (TDE) entering exclusive talks with Hutchison Whampoa Group for the potential sale of UK (O2 UK) for an indicative price in cash, or firm value, of £10.25bn. Its shares rose 2.55% to 13.08p. Vodafone (VOD) rose 2.69% to 245.13p, while BT Group (BT.A) gained 204% to 429.8p.

Just after the open, FTSE 100 was up 28.46 points, or 0.42%, to 6825.09, below year-long resistance around 6875. FTSE 250 was up 83.73, or 0.51%, to 16,462.7, a level last seen March 2014. Greece's election this weekend is the market's next major hurdle.

Financials studded the top-100 index's leaders' board. HSBC (HSBA) led banks with a 1.45% rise to 629.3, while Man Group (EMG) led investment specialists with a rise of 1.37% to 174.05p. Insurers were piloted by Admiral (ADM), up 1.35% to 1464.5p. Meantime, property titans rising included Hammerson (HMSO), up 1.62% to 689.5p, followed by Land Securities (LAND).

Retail-related stocks were up. Unilever (ULVR) was up 1.72% to 2833p, with Tesco (TSCO) adding 1.55% to 239.5p. Premier Foods (PFD) rose 10.88% to 40.75p on a robust trading statement, even though Q4 year-to-date sales slipped 5.3% to £788.5m. A slip in China factory growth put the cosh on miners, Antofagasta (ANTO) leading the posse down with a 3.09% fall to 696.75p.


EnQuest (ENQ) reports a strong operational and financial performance in 2014, with provisional production of 28,267 boepd, up 17% on the year, at the high end of its guidance. It rose 31.27% to 39.38p. Elsewhere, HaiKe Chemical (HAIK) expects to report a FY profit for its continuing operations. Total turnover was a jot lower. It rose 19.57% to 13.75p.

Space and People (SAL), up 18.89% to 53.5p, said trading during the last four months of the year has been robust with FY profits expected to be at the upper end of market expectations and higher than expected cash inflows with a net cash balance at Dec. 31, 2014, of £1.5m.

Cambria Africa (CMB) is calling an AGM to seek shareholders' approval to cancel its admission to AIM. Its shares fell 52.73% to 0.65p. Meantime, Robinson (RBN), down 10.66% to 155p, said FY revenues are anticipated to be £28.1m, a 20% hike on the year. Underlying sales volumes in the pre-existing businesses remained at last year's level.


Jimmy Choo (CHOO), up 0.54% to 168.9p, expects to report net revenue growth of 12% at constant currency to £299.1m (6.2% at reported rates) for the year to Dec. 31, 2014. It had performed strongly in a challenging year for the industry, it said.

WANdisco (WAND), up 1.28% to 395p, has announced a conditional placing of 4.8m new shares at a price of 375p each to raise about $24.8m. The placing shares represented about 19.6% of the existing issued share capital.

Carillion (CLLN), up 0.98% to 351.8p, has signed contracts worth about £200m to provide facilities management services for public sector prisons.

Spectris (SXS) has completed the acquisition of ReliaSoft Corp, based in Arizona. Purchase price was $42m, on a debt and cash-free basis, and would be met from existing cash and bank facilities and is subject to routine balance sheet adjustments. It rose 1.08% to 2195.5p.

Ultra Electronics' (ULE) Oman Airport IT contract has been terminated. Talks with the customer would begin next week to work towards settlement. Impact on FY 2015 underlying profit was expected to be minimal. It fell 0.74% to 1808.5p.

Close Brothers Group (CBG), up 1.01% to 1555.5p, remains confident in the outlook for its FY. It has continued its good performance, driven by strong returns in the banking division whilst trading in Winterflood continues to be impacted by difficult market conditions.

Story provided by