StockMarketWire.com - London stocks got off to a mixed and somewhat sluggish start with the Standard Life-Aberdeen Asset Management merger in crisp focus, as the market looks ahead to the UK annual budget release on Wednesday.

Not too long after the open, FTSE 100 was down 24.43 points, or 0.33% to 7349.83, while FTSE 250 was up 10.37, or 0.05%, to 18,893.2.

A dip in the dollar and multiple lower industrial metals prices dented miners, with Anglo American (AAL), off 1.77% to 1250p, and Rio Tinto (RIO), down 1.31% to 3296.25p, faltering.

Also lower were a string of banks, these guided by RBS (RBS), down 1.46% to 243.4p, and Barclays (BARC), down 1.27% to 228.45p. BP (BP), down 1.34% to 457.83p, and Shell (RDSA), down 0.55% to 2125.75p, slipped with crude.

Standard Life (SL.) and and Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) have recommended all-share merger, with shareholders in the latter receiving 0.757 new shares for each that they hold. The deal valued Aberdeen's share capital at about £3.8bn. SL's shares rose 7.19% to 405.7p, with ADN's up 5.45% to 302p.

Other blue chips rising included airlines after easyJet (EZJ), up 2.09% to 976.5p. Informa (INF), up 1.48% to 683.5p, reports its third consecutive year of growth in revenue, adjusted earnings, free cashflow and dividends in the 12 months to end-December.

BT Sport (BT.A), up 0.52% to 334.68p, has confirmed that it will remain the exclusive UK home of all UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League football. Meantime, Randgold (RRS) rose 1.4% to 7407.5p as the price of the yellow metal improved.

BIGGER MOVERS

Independent Resources (IRG) rose 96.15% to 0.13p as it appointed a non-executive chairman, announced an institutional investment, an intended open offer to raise about £1.5m and a name change to Echo Energy Plc.

Bowleven (BLVN) and Victoria Oil & Gas (VOG) have signed a farm-out agreement relating to the Bomono production sharing contract (Bomono PSC). Bowleven's shares fell 4.73% to 32.63p, while Victoria's firmed 14.68% to 69.38p.

Ultra Electronics (ULE), up 8.27% to 2146p, has lifted its FY IFRS pretax profit by 94.3% to £67.6m, from £34.8m, as it said a small number of US contract awards would move into H2 2017. Total dividend was 47.8p a share, from 46.1p.

Sirius Real Estate's (SRE) shares were up a staggering 8434% to 49.5p in what was its first day of dealings on the main markets of the London Stock Exchange and Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Versarien (VRS), up 6.25% to 17p, has completed its £1m fundraising -- via a placing by WH Ireland and an offer via PrimaryBid -- at 15p a share. Due to oversubscription, it would issue and allot a total of 10.04m new shares to satisfy the fundraising. Gross proceeds were £1.5m.

Rose Petroleum (ROSE), up 4.35% to 0.12p, has entered into an MoU with Magellan Gold Corp for the potential disposal of its mineral processing mill operation in San Dieguito de Arriba, Mexico, and its associated assets, licenses and agreements for a total of $1.5m.

LGO (LGO), up 4.12% to 0.13p, has confirmed that well GY-682 was spudded on Saturday at the Goudron Field in eastern Trinidad.

Union Jack Oil (UJO), up 3.45% to 0.15p, has agreed with Celtique Energie Petroleum Ltd to acquire a further 3.33% interest in PEDL180 and PEDL182. Following completion it would hold a 15% interest. Consideration was £600,000.

Abzena (ABZA), up 2.74% to 37.5p, noted one of the 'Abzena inside' Composite Human Antibody products previously disclosed as being in phase I trials was moving forwards into a phase II clinical trial.

Plant Impact (PIM), down 1.98% to 49.5p, swings to H1 pretax loss of £0.98m, a significant reversal from the prior same period's profit of £0.19m. Higher costs and expenses, share-based payments and restructuring costs were factors.

Satellite Solutions Worldwide (SAT), up 1.41% to 9p, is acquiring BorderNET Internet Pty Ltd in Australia and the customer bases of NextNet and AS Distriktsnett in Norway for total consideration of £1.8m in cash and shares.

Other stocks in the news included Harworth (HWG), Synthomer (SYNT), Devro (DVO), StatPro Group (SOG), Vernalis (VER) and Touchstone Innovations (IVO).




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