StockMarketWire.com - FTSE indices nudged higher in early deals with a string of pharmas and mining outfits providing direction, assisted by commercial property companies. This followed a firmer session in Asia last night, although Wall St lost ground as China economic fears continued.

Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was up 46.88 points, or 0.77%, to 6105.42. FTSE 250 was up 101.57, or 0.6%, to 16,941.9. At 8.39am, WTI crude was down 1.7% and Brent was off 1.23%. Three-month industrial metals prices were flat, but copper fell 1.29% and tin rose 3.38%.

Ashtead Group (AHT) led blue chips up with a 4.91% gain to 962p on a strong Q1 with underlying pretax profits of £161m, up 23% at constant exchange rates on the prior year. Underlying EBITDA rose by 25% to £282.7m and underlying operating profits were also up 25% at £180.2m.

Thereafter, pharmas were guided north by Hikma (HIK), up 4.36% to 2322p, and Astrazeneca (AZN), up 1.67% to 4100.7p. Several miners enjoyed strength behind Antofagasta (ANTO), up 2.13% to 586.75p, with Anglo American (AAL), up 1.55% to 695p, following. Several insurers gained behind Old Mutual (OML).

Commercial property followed Intu (INTU), up 1.56% to 319.9p, higher, but house builders wilted in the wake of Persimmon (PSN), down 0.76% to 2026.5p. Overall, about 17 blue chips softened and among these oil majors were prominent behind Shell (RDSA), down 0.44% to 1630.75p.

BIGGER MOVERS

Jubilant (JUB), up 14.67% to 0.43p, said its operating subsidiary company in India has entered into funding arrangements with Jubilant Energy Private Ltd for unsecured loan facilities totalling about $2.34m.

SpaceandPeople (SAL), up 10.39% to 85p, has won exclusive rights to promote brands across all Network Rail stations in the UK for five years.

Halfords Group (HFD), down 7.37% to 472.4p, said cycling sales in the eight weeks to Aug. 28 fell against tough comparatives and were expected to be below current market expectations for the quarter.

Range Resources (RRL), up 7.02% to 0.61p, has advised the vessel carrying the first new 4000m rig has arrived at the port in Trinidad. This is the largest rig to be added to Range Resources Drilling Services Limited (RRDSL) drilling fleet this year.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

CEB Resources (CEB), down 6.49% to 0.72p, said initial goals of its '100 day plan' have been achieved and work now continues apace in Indonesia. Johnson Service Group (JSG), up 2.33% to 93.63p, reports another strong performance for H1 with adjusted operating profits up 20.2% at £11.3m.

Diploma (DPLM), down 4.65% to 682.25p, expects reported revenues for the year to Sept. 30 to rise about 9% with acquisitions incrementally contributing around 10%, offset by a reduction of about 2% in revenues from translational currency effects.

Tandem Group (TND), up down 2.99% to 162.5p, has acquired 100% of the share capital of leisure products business E.S.C. (Europe) Ltd. Initial consideration was £2.1m cash, with an adjustment for net assets in excess of or below £1.5m following the preparation of completion accounts.

Aggreko (AGK), up 2.14% to 1048p, has agreed to acquire substantially all of the assets associated with, and used in connection with, the equipment rental business of ICS Group, a provider of mobile temperature control services in Canada. Total consideration was C$37.0m.

Ryanair (RYA), up 2.06% to 12.37p, has lifted its August traffic by 10% to 10.4m customers, against 9.4m customers in the same month a year ago. Rolling annual traffic to August grew 15% to 96.3m customers. Load factor in August rose to 95%, from 93%.

Other stocks in the news included Fishing Republic (FISH), Ariana Resources (AAU), Velocys (VLS), Concurrent Technologies (CNC), Rare Earth Minerals (REM), LiDCO Group (LID), Mwana Africa (MWA) and Severfield (SFR).




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