StockMarketWire.com - FTSE indices nudged higher in early deals with mixed financial and retail stocks providing limp direction as resources titans eased. Wall St closed higher overnight Friday, while Asian markets were mixed this morning. Crude oil remains below $50/bbl.

FTSE 100 opened up 3.38 points, or 0.05%, to 6553.65. FTSE 250 was up 33.24 points, or 0.21%, to 15,955.8. At 8.33am, WTI crude was down 1.01% to $48.2/bbl. Brent was down 0.92% to $49.71. Possible ECB quantitative easing and China's flagging economy were affecting sentiment.

Tesco (TSCO), up 3.42% to 226.55p, yesterday unveiled a range of price cuts and improvements to retake the initiative in a tough market. M&S (MKS) and Sainsbury (SBRY) rose less. Financials on the up included investment specialist Man Group (EMG), up 1.21% to 163.25p, and insurer Admiral (ADM), up 0.96% to 1468p.

Among oily issues, BP (BP.) fell 0.7% to 410.45p, Shell (RDSA) lost 0.43% to 2093.5p, and BG Group (BG.) shed 1.13% to 842.9p. Big-ticket miners were also affected. Anglo American (AAL) retreated 0.59% to 1093p, with Vedanta (VED) down 3.24% to 392.25p. Utility companies -- as with banks and property stocks -- also firmed, but were off the pace.

Finsbury Food (FIF), up 6.78% to 63p, has reported strong trade over the Christmas period, while Greene King (GNK), down 0.54% to 782.75p, has noted encouraging sales in its retail business over the two weeks covering Christmas and the New Year.

BIGGER MOVERS

Tavistock Investments (TAVI), down 49.9% to 2.63p, its to acquire Standard Financial, the holding company of an independent financial advisory business that operates predominantly through regulated subsidiary Financial Ltd. Tavistock has set aside £2.7m for the deal.

XLMedia (XLM), up 10.48% to 58p, said FY trading has benefitted from organic growth and the positive impact from the recent acquisitions. XLMedia expected to beat market views with FY revenue of at least $49.5m and adjusted EBITDA of at least $16.6m.

Metal Tiger (MTR) was up 11.76% to 0.95p after it entered an MoU for a 50/50 JV with Kibo Mining (KIBO), up 8.2% to 8.25p,on its Morogoro South gold-prospective exploration portfolio in Tanzania.

Sprue Aegis (SPRP), up 6.2% to 342.5p, expected its FY results would be ahead of market views with sales up 36% to £65.6m and an operating profit of about £10.3m, up 94%.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Wincanton (WIN), up 2.28% to 168p, has been awarded a new contract with defence manufacturer BAE Systems to provide full logistics and warehousing services in support of its UK shipbuilding operations.

Oilex Ltd (OEX), up 5.88% to 2.25p, has received endorsement from the relevant authorities of the Government of India (GoI) for the sale of gas from Cambay Field, specifically from the Cambay-77H well.

Thorntons (THT)'s, up 1.9% to 80.5p, Q2 trading update showed a strong like-for-like Retail performance. However, FMCG Division's total sales fell 10.3% to £41.9m. Retail Division total sales fell 2.4% to £44.9m.

Conviviality Retail (CVR). up 1.56% to 130p, saw strong Xmas trade in the two weeks to Jan. 4 with growth 2.6% above last year. Elsewhere, LiteBulb (LBB), up 3.3% to 0.94p, has received over $0.5m worth of orders for its 'Star Wars' homeware product range from US licence holder Underground Toys.



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