- Key FTSE indices were firmer with rises in financial stocks more than offsetting energy issues dented by Saudi Arabia cutting prices for crude sold to the US, sending barrel prices to two-year lows.

Shortly after the open, FTSE 100 was up 6.84 points, or 0.11%, to 6494.81. FTSE 250 was up 24.55 points, or 0.16%, to 15,477.7. Wall St was mixed overnight, as were Asian markets this morning.

The blue-chip gainers' board was dominated by financials. Man Group (EMG) added 3.65% to 127.9p, while Schroders (SDR) gained 2.72% to 2455p, and Standard Chartered (STAN) rose 1.64% to 956.85p.

Legal & General (LGEN) rose 2.34% to 236p on growing its revenues, operating profit, customers and net cash in Q3. Imperial Tobacco Group's (IMT) added 2.21% to 2726p on reporting total adjusted operating profit was stable at £3bn in the year to end-September.

Meantime, oil stocks suffered from the Saudi decision to cut prices to the US, but hike those to Asian customers. Tullow Oil (TLW) lost 1.56% to 475.75p, followed by Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA), down 1.39% to 2165.5p.

Metals also eased under the spectre of China's economy. Rio Tinto (RIO) fell 0.38% to 2980.25p. But, Glencore (GLEN) rose 0.78% to 317.4p as its own-sourced copper production in Q3 rose 8% to 1,149,000 tonnes.


TT Electronics (TTG) said it expects its FY performance to be at the lower end of expectations and -- taking into account its underlying performance for 2014 -- that it will be materially lower in 2015. Its shares cliff dived 30.15% to 113.5p.

Physiomics (PYC) added 28% to 0.16p on confirming top-five pharma company Merck & Co. is a customer.


Greene King (GNK) has agreed a £773.6m takeover of Spirit Pub Company (SPRT). Greene King's shares fell 4.39% to 773p, while Spirit's gained 0.7% to 107.75p.

Banco Santander (BNC), down 0.27% to 548p, made an attributable profit of 4.361bn euros in the first nine months of the year, up 32% on the year. Q3 profit was 1.6bn euros, up 10% on the previous quarter and the highest in three years.

Persimmon (PSN) said as a result of the continued disciplined growth of the business it expects a substantial level of cash holding by the year end, even after allowing for the on-going significant investment in land and work in progress. Its shares rose 0.34% to 1463p.

Rare Earth Minerals (REM) said a significant drilling programme -- a five-fold increason on the last stage of drilling -- will shortly commence on the Sonora Lithium Project in Mexico. its shares rose 1.77% to 1.15p.

The Unite Group (UTG), up 0.29% to 206.6p, said it continues to perform strongly in all areas. Demand for its accommodation remains very high resulting in 99% occupancy and strong like-for-like rental growth across the portfolio.

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