StockMarketWire.com - London stocks are starting on a tentatively positive note, following on from gains on Wall St and in Asia overnight and as a slew of blue-chip updates are received broadly positively by investors.

Drinks specialist Diageo (DGE) rose 4.4% to 2235.25p, on H1 net sales of £6.42bn and operating profit of £2.07bn, up 14.5% and 28.0% respectively, due to organic growth and favourable exchange.

St. James's Place (STJ), up 2.01% to 1115p, said group funds under management totalled £75.3bn at Dec. 31, 2016, or up 28% for the year.

Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was up 5.34 points, or 0.07%, to 7169.77, with financials notable among the leaders. FTSE 250 was up 24.05, or 0.13%, to 18,157.4. At 8.41am, WTI crude was up 0.7% to $53.12/bbl, while Brent rose 0.78% to $55.51/bb. Gold fell 0.1% to $1196.6/oz.

RBS (RBS), up 0.48% to 228.6p, led banks despite flagging its Q4 results would show a further £3.1bn provision relating to US residential mortgage-backed securities. It has so far -- to end 2016 -- earmarked £6.7bn.

Other financials rising were lender Barclays (BARC), ahead 0.97% to 233.1p, investment specialist Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.), up 1.13% to 1346p, and insurer Standard Life (SL.), up 0.87% to 352.65p.

BT Group (BT.) recovered a smidgen, up 0.77% to 304.68, after its recent walloping linked to an accountancy scandal at its Italian unit.

Other blue-chip sectors marching higher included miners and oilies, albeit off the financials' pace. Anglo American (AAL), up 0.95% to 1374.5p, said operational improvements across its portfolio delivered a 4% production rise on a copper equivalent basis in Q4 2016.

Sky (SKY), up 0.15% to 1004.5p, has delivered a strong H1 performance as its pretax profit slipped to £377m, from £414m. It continued to make significant progress against its strategy and remained on track for the year.

To the downside, the pack was led by Unilever (ULVR), down 4.55% to 3196p, as it hiked its FY net profit by 5.5% to €5.5bn despite turnover falling 1% to €52.7bn. It noted severe economic disruptions, and challenging market conditions that were likely to continue into H1 2017.

Sage Group (SGE) fell 2.17% to 619.75p as its Q1 results came in broadly in line with its views, having previously indicated that the early part of FY 2017 would start more slowly, with growth accelerating through the year and into FY 2018.

Whitbread (WTB), down 4.47% to 3877.5p, said its total sales rose 8.3% in 39 weeks to Dec. 1, 2016, and on a like-for-like basis were up 1.9%. It sees its FY results in line with views.

BIGGER MOVERS

Nu-Oil and Gas (NUOG) rose 40.24% to 0.57p as it said MFDevCo, in which it holds 50%, has entered into a collaboration agreement with COSL Drilling Pan Pacific Ltd, with the objective of securing projects more cost-effectively, earlier and with less upfront capital.

PowerHouse Energy (PHE) rose 33.33% to 7p on stating its G3-UHt Ultra-high temperature Demonstration gasification system had left the harbour in Brisbane, Australia, and was bound for the UK. The transit time was estimated to be 50 days.

Ashley House (ASH) fell 20.51% to 7.75p as it said that while the business remained profitable there were challenges to overcome. H1 revenue was marginally higher at £10.7m, while pretax profit rose to £0.8m, from £0.2m.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Venture Life Group (VLG), up 11.65% to 57.5p, said the acceleration in revenue growth seen in H1 had continued into H2. It has achieved record FY revenue of £14.3m, up 57%, will post its first FY of EBITDA profitability.

Lonmin (LMI) fell 8.35% to 162p on confirming it was disappointed by Q1 production at its Generation 2 shafts. It maintained its FY 2017 sales guidance at 650,000-680,000 Platinum ounces.

Frontier Smart Technologies (FST) rose 8.28% to 85p on commenting it expected to report an improved financial performance for FY 2016, achieving a positive Group EBITDA on a continuing basis, ahead of current market expectations.

Ceres Power (CWR), up 7.41% to 8.7p, has rapidly accelerated its development, signing a further two commercial development partnerships and expanded its international footprint. It said it had significant momentum heading into H2.

Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), down 7.45% to 694p, said it was trading in line with expectations and that its profit outlook for year the year is unchanged. Haynes Publishing (HYNS), up 6.12% to 130p, said its EBITDA rose by 21% to £4.1m in the 26 weeks to end-November.

Brewin Dolphin (BRW), up 0.65% to 309.7p, said momentum behind its growth strategy continued to build during the first quarter and total funds grew to £36.4bn (Q1 2016: £33.2bn, FY 2016: £35.4bn).

Jimmy Choo (CHOO), up 2.07% to 154.38p, saw another year of record revenue for the 12 months ended 31 December, it being up 15% to £364m. CPL Resources (CPS), up 1.61% to 471.5p, saw its H1 revenues rise 6% to €228.7m, with pretax profit up 7% at €8.1m. Interim dividend was up 10% to 5.75 cents a share.

Card Factory (CARD), up 2.27% to 249.55p, said it expected FY underlying pretax profits would be slightly ahead of market consensus after a good Christmas trading period and against a strong comparative.




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