StockMarketWire.com - FTSE indices tiptoed into positive territory on a healthy flow of corporate news and guarded confidence that Greece will win a four-month bailout extension. Financial stocks led the blue-chip gainers, while resources stocks were broadly softer.

Shortly after the open, FTSE 100 was up 3.7 points, or 0.05%, to 6918.98. FTSE 250 was up 20.82, or 0.12%, to 17,143.4. At 8.34am, WTI crude was down 0.28% to $50.67/bbl. Brent fell 0.27% to $60.06/bbl. Wall St was up overnight Friday, and Asian markets gained this morning.

Pearson (PSON) was up 1.33% to 1409.5p, with Serco (SRP) behind and up 1.27% to 214.6p. Among financials, Lloyds (LLOY) led banks with a 1.18% rise to 78.9p, while 3i (III) piloted investment specialists with a 1.15% gain to 487.75p. Standard Life captained insurers with a 1.02% surge to 423.9p.

In the news, Antofagasta (ANTO) was down 1.39% to 743p as it lowered its cash cost outlook for 2015 but said production guidance was unchanged. Balfour Beatty (BBY) rose 0.14% to 244.05p as its JV Gammon Construction won a HK$3.2bn residential development contract in Hong Kong. Associated British Foods (ABF), up 0.56% to 3053p, expects a small fall in FY adjusted EPS.

Among mining stocks giving up ground were Kaz Minerals (KAZ), down 2.39% to 250.85p, with Fresnillo (FRES) behind. Tullow Oil (TLW), down 2.16% to 398.5p, led oil stocks down, with Cairn Energy (CNE) some way behind. In the spotlight HSBC (HSBA) fell 3.25% to 585.55p as tax practices at its Swiss arm came under further scrutiny.

BIGGER MOVERS

Tower Resources (TRP) and Premier Oil (PMO) have received notification from Lion Petroleum that the Badada-1 will be plugged and abandoned as a dry hole. Tower fell 57.65% to 0.18p, while Premier shed 3.69% to 170.75p.

Oracle Coalfields (ORCP) has received confirmation from Directorate, Coal Mines Development, Government of Sindh, Pakistan that the Mining Lease of subsidiary Sindh Carbon Energy Ltd in Block VI of the Thar coalfield has been restored. Its shares rose 25% to 1p.

Quindell (QPP) noted press speculation and said it has extended Slater & Gordon Ltd's exclusivity period relating to the possible disposal of the professional services division (PSD) to March 31, 2015. Its shares rose 21.22% to 92.63p.

Rosslyn Data Technologies (RDT) said US subsidiary Rosslyn Analytics Inc has agreed with E&I Cooperative Services (E&I) to provide cloud-based spend analytics services to its 3000 members in the US via its E&I Consulting Group division. RDT's shares rose 13.85% to 18.5p.

ECONOMIC NEWS

Greece is to present a list of reforms to lenders today with a view to securing a bailout extension. This list must be approved by international creditors to obtain a four-month loan extension.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Gulfsands Petroleum (GPX), up 8.33% to 39p, has completed drilling operations on the Douar Ouled Balkhair 1 gas exploration well in Morocco with the well confirmed as a gas discovery.

Michelmersh Brick Holdings (MBH), up 2.14% to 71.5p, reports the completion of a £2.2m expansion project to hike output capacity by 6m bricks, or 20%, bricks at Freshfield Lane. In other news, Wincanton (WIN) said Magnet, has renewed its national home delivery and transport contract with Wincanton in a long term deal. It rose 1.41% to 171.38p.

DS Smith (SMDS) announces the proposed acquisition of the Duropack business for about 300m euros. DS Smith also said that in the three-month period to Jan. 31, its business has continued to perform in line with plans. Its shares rose 2.26% to 355.05p.

Bunzl (BNZL) posted FY adjusted operating profits of £429.8m, up 4% on a reported basis and 10% at constant currencies. Adjusted pretax profits rose to £387.8m, from £372.2m. Its shares rose 1.48% to 1956.5p.

Unite Group (UTG) has improved its FY pretax profit to £108.4m, from £79.3m a year earlier. It enjoyed a £56.5m share of joint venture profit, from £9.2m. Its total dividend was 11.2p a share, from 4.8p. EPRA NAV per shar was up 13.6% to 434p, from 382p. UTG fell 0.29% to 522.5p.

Bovis Homes (BVS) has unveiled 'excellent' FY results with a record number of homes delivered and stronger sales prices and profit margins. Revenues rose 46% at £809.4m and pretax profits rose 69% to £133.5m. Bovis fell 0.05% to 947p.




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