StockMarketWire.com - FTSE indices were mildly firmer near midday with several consumer goods outfits in focus, while a gaggle of energy, financial, property stocks gained against a backcloth of softer US and Asian markets.

Near noon, the FTSE 100 was up 3.92 points, or 0.06%, to 6842.79, while the FTSE 250 was up 25.45 points, or 0.16%, to 16,113.1.

In the US last night, the Dow fell 102 points to 16,844, the Nasdaq shed 6 points at 4332 and the S&P 500 lost 7 points at 1944. In Asia today the Nikkei closed down 96 points at 14,974 and the Hang Seng was off 104 points at 23,154.

Consumer goods outfits were noticeable risers. Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) rose 1.41% to 5197.5p, while break-up chatter kept Unilever (ULVR) bubbling along, up 1.18% to 2709.5p.

PZ Cussons (PZC) said its performance for the year to end-May was in line with management expectations with sterling profits expected to be about 6% higher than the previous year. Its shares, however, were flat at 357p.

Aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce (RR.) rallied 1.33% to 1030.5p as investors considered Wednesday's sell-off on news of a contract cancellation overdone.

Financial stocks were not far off the pace with Prudential (PRU) rising 0.75% to 1380.25p, Legal & General (LGEN) gaining 0.54% to 233.45p, and Admiral Group (ADM) up 2.52% to 1548p.

Among the energy issues on the rise were National Grid (NG.), up 0.57% to 835.75p, Kazakhmys (KAZ), up 0.41% to 281.15p, and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA), up 0.34% to 2363p.

Commercial property behemoths were upwardly mobile. Land Securities (LAND) added 0.56% to 1080p, while Hammerson (HMSO) rose 0.71% to 602.25p, and British Land (BLND) gained a more muted 0.28% to 717.5p.

Pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca (AZN) gained 1.03% to 4445.5p in the wake of Wednesday's comments by Pfizer on price being the reason for the failure of its bid approach. Glaxosmithkline (GSK) added 0.2% to 1614.75p.

Mining stocks provided ballast as they followed industrial metals prices lower. Lonmin (LMI) was off 4.37% to 226.35p, Anglo American (AAL) slumped 3.36% to 1415.25p, and Rio Tinto (RIO) shed 3.08% to 3059.25p.

BIGGER MOVERS

Synairgen (SNG) announces a global licence agreement with AstraZeneca for SNG001, a novel, inhaled interferon beta (IFN-beta) in clinical development for treating respiratory tract viral infections in patients with severe asthma. Its shares rose 40.57% to 74.5p on the news.

Surface Transforms (SCE) said while good progress is being made on the crucial game changing contracts, revenue in the year ended 31 May 2014 was about £1.3m. "Whilst this is below market expectations, it represents an 18% increase in revenue over the previous year." Its shares were sold down 22.22% to 8.75p.

Max Petroleum (MXP) said as at 31 March 2014 it was estimated the group had 9.5m barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) in proved and probable (2P) reserves with an after-tax net present value discounted at 10% (PV10) of $184m. Its total proved, probable and possible (3P) reserves rose 7% to 10.4 mmboe as at 31 March 2014. Its shares fell 23.73% to 1.43p.

First-half revenues at Image Scan (IGE), the AIM-listed specialist supplier of x-ray screening systems to the security and industrial inspection markets, rose by 57% to £1,678,000. Its shares essayed 18.18% higher to 3.25p.

Tissue Regenix Group (TRX) has launched DermaPure, its decellularised dermis product, in the US. Tissue Regenix's partner CTS (Community Tissue Services) will begin shipping product to customers next week. Shares in the company rose 20.15% to 24.63p.

Wildhorse Energy (WHE) fell 21.43% to 0.55p on announcing a proposed pro-rata, non-renounceable rights issue to raise up to about AUD$1.435m gross. The funds would be used as general working capital to further Wildhorse's existing projects and also to identify and evaluate additional uranium and other resource projects.

B&M European Value Retail's (BME) initial public offering is priced at 270p per share giving the company a market capitalisation of £2,700m. Its shares were trading at 287.25p.

Opsec Security Group (OSG) booked a marginally wider FY pretax loss of £3.22m, from a loss of £3.20m. Revenue was £55.5m, from £51.7m. Its shares slid 7.25% to 32p.

ECONOMIC NEWS

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said its main house price balance rose to +57 in May, from a revised +55 in April. The market had expected a reading of +52.

Germany’s wholesale price index fell to -0.1% in May, from 0.2% in April, data from Destatis showed. The market had expected the index to fall 0.3%.

France's consumer price inflation was flat at a seasonally adjusted 0.0% in May, from 0.0% in April, data from French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies showed. The market had expected a rise of 0.1%.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today set out the changes it proposes to make in the private motor insurance (PMI) market to increase competition and reduce the cost of premiums for motorists.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group (HOME) said total sales at Argos grew by 4.8% to £868m in the quarter to end-May, with online sales booming, while total sales at Homebase grew by 5.5% to £445m. Its shares fell 1.94% to 196.7p.

Project management specialist WS Atkins (ATK), down 1.81% to 1302p, said underlying profit before tax for the year to end-March was £106.4m, an increase of 7.3% over last year. The unadjusted reported profit before tax was £114.2m (2013 restated: £98.0m).

Aer Lingus (AERL) has warned 2014 operating profits will be 10-20% lower than last time due to threatened strike action. It welcomed indications from trade union Impact to defer two further one-day strikes called on 16 and 18 June. Shares in the outfit fell 0.68% to 1.47p.

boohoo.com (BOO), the 'global fashion leader for a social generation,' reports operating profits of £10.8m for the year to the end of February, 229% up on last time. Revenues were 63% higher at £109.8m and gross profits rose to £64.9m from £36.7m with margins increasing to 59.1% from 54.5%. Its shares rose 6.52% to 49p on the news.

Fashion and home furnishing group Laura Ashley's (ALY) total retail sales fell by 0.9% in the first 19 weeks of its current financial year to the end of January 2015. But like-for-like sales were up 0.7% during the period. Its shares were down 4.94% to 26.38p.

Volex (VLX) swung to a FY pretax loss of $7.6m, from a profit of $1.9m. Revenue was $400.2m, from $473.2m. It separately proposed a placing and open offer of 24.1m new shares at 75p each to raise about £18.1m. Its shares fell 0.46% to 79.38p.


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