- The FTSE 100 inched its way to a new all-time closing high after a heavy-news session that was generally characterised by moribund volatility. The blue-chip ladder was driven higher by a string of sectors, which more than offset lacklustre turns by energy outfits.

FTSE 100 closed up 14.35 points, or 0.21%, to 6949.73, a tickle ahead of Tuesday's then record-busting close of 6949.63. FTSE 250 was up 61.53, or 0.36%, to 17,249.8, also in uncharted waters. At 4.48am, WTI was down 3.16% to $49.38/bbl. Brent fell 0.92% to $61.06/bbl.

Standard Chartered (STAN) rose 5.37% to 976p on naming Bill Winters as CEO. BATS (BATS) rose 1.72% to 3795p on a strong FY performance despite forex headwinds. Its adjusted group profit from operations rose 4.4% in constant currencies to £6.08bn. Otherwise, Tesco (TSCO) led supermarkets up with a 2.12% rise to 246p, with several retail-related stocks behind.

Reed Elsevier (REL), off 4.8% to 1130p on ho-hum FY numbers, led to the downside. RSA Insurance (RSA) fell 4.66% to 429.3p despite swinging to a FY pretax profit of £275m. RBS (RBS) fell 4.14% to 386.6p on a FY pretax loss of £3.5bn. Utilities eased behind Centrica (CNA), off 2.15% to 245.6p, with Severn Trent (SVT) a tickle behind.

In other news, Kaz Minerals (KAZ) fell 1.77% to 249.5p on better than expected FY results, while its costs were well below guidance. Among the oil stocks following crude lower were Cairn Energy (CNA), off 2.95% to 200.4p. It was followed by BG Group (BG.) and Tullow Oil (TLW), among others.


Reach4entertainment (R4E), down 38.24% to 2.62p, said it expected its FY results to be in line with market forecasts. It doubted its 2015-year performance would match that of FY 2014.

Digital Barriers (DGB) plunged 18% to 41p after it warned that contract timings meant its FY revenues would fall below its expectations. As a result, losses would also be more than anticipated. However, the group continued to win contracts.

Redde (REDD) reported H1 growth in credit hire, hire days and repairs, driving the shares 10.64% higher to 104p. Its dividend was hiked 19% to 4p. Elsewhere, Redde (REDD) reported H1 growth in credit hire, hire days and repairs, driving the shares 10.64% higher to 104p. Its dividend was hiked 19% to 4p.

ValiRx (VAL), up 6.82% to 0.24p, has received UK patent approval by the UK Patent Office regarding its lead therapeutic compound VAL201 for a further indication in endometriosis or hormone induced abnormal cell growth in women.


Stateside, the US Consumer Price Index fell a seasonally adjusted 0.7% in January, US Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The core Consumer Price Index -- less food and energy -- rose 0.2% in January. US initial unemployment claims rose to 313,000 in the week to Feb. 21, US Department of Labor said. This was up 31,000 on the previous week.

UK gross domestic product growth in Q4 2014 was 0.5%, as in an estimated preliminary reading and down from 0.7% from the preceding three-month period, Office for National Statistics said.


Domino's Pizza (DOM) rose 5.42% to 730p after it reported a record FY pretax profit of £54.4m, up 15.1%. Like-for-like sales growth in its core UK market accelerated to 11.3%, but the German business had a tough year with sales down 4.9%.

Interserve (IRV) added 5.21% to 586p as underlying FY profit surged for the year to end-December. Headline underlying EPS increased 23% to 58.8p and its order book swelled 26%.

Playtech (PTEC) rose 4.71% to 772.75p as FY revenue rose 24% to a record 457m euros, driven by its flagship casino product. Adjusted EBITDA gained 30% to 207.1m euros. In other news, Robert Walters (RWA) improved its FY pretax profit by 80% to £18.2m, from £10.1m. It hiked its final dividend by 13% to 4.35p a share, from 3.86p. RWA rose 2.03% to 351p.

Ladbrokes (LAD) rose 5.43% to 120.4p despite FY pretax profit profit almost halving to £37.7m, driven by 'regulatory headwinds' and a disappointing Boxing Day. Analysts were already warning that Ladbrokes might yet revise its earnings forecasts down further.

Other shares on the move after news included Merlin Entertainments (MERL), Premier Oil (PMO), Howden Joinery (HWDN), Lavendon (LVD), Photo-Me International (PHTM), Monitise (MONI), Synthomer (SYNT), National Express (NEX), and Spirent Communications (SPT).

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