- FTSE indices ended lower, reversing their positive start, after Bank of England issued a cautionary note on the impact of the anticipated US rates hike next week. A standout turn by Ashtead (AHT) was offset by numerous fallers. Wall St was mixed and Europe ended mildly lower.

FTSE 100 closed down 8.54 points, or 0.14%, to 6126.68. FTSE 250 was down 52.05, or 0.3%, to 17,139.8. At 4.40pm, crude was up less than 1%, but its prices remain threadbare after OPEC's output call earlier this week. Gold and copper were at USD1070/oz and USD206/lb.

Capita (CPI) fell 2.97% to 1178p to lead blue chips south, with Pearson (PSON), off 2.68% to 743.5p, while Hikma (HIK), down 2.46% to 2098p, led pharmas. Airline-related stocks tapered after IAG (IAG), down 1.37% to 575.5p, while Rolls-Royce (RR.) faded 1.95% to 578.5p. RSA Insurance (RSA) fell 0.21% to 429.2p on agreeing to sell its Russia operations.

Several banks tapered in the wake of Lloyds (LLOY), lower 0.9% to 70.67p, while house builders and commercial property were present among fallers, too. A number of miners slipped, but overall were more prevalent among risers. Glencore (GLEN), up 4.62% to 83.12p, and Rio Tinto (RIO), up 3.88% to 1966.5p, enjoyed gains as value buyers chimed in.

Oilies also rallied. BG (BG.) added 2.46% to 985.2p, while Shell (RDSA) firmed 1.57% to 1541.25p. US rates-sensitive utilities were mostly on the front foot behind Centrica (CNA), up 2.06% to 206.05p. Roughly 30 blue chips made gains. Ashtead (AHT) soared a compelling 8.63% to 1120p as it booked H1 pretax profits up 20% to GBP 331.9m.


LiteBulb (LBB), which flashed 41.38% lower to 8.5p, has reported two of its divisions are experiencing a difficult Q4, which is expected to result in a shortfall in group revenues of about GBP3.3m compared with directors' expectations in September.

FinnAust Mining (FAM), up a stellar 145.45% to 1.35p, and then off earlier highs, has signed a binding agreement to acquire an initial 60% interest in Bluejay Mining. Rose Petroleum (ROSE), down 18.18% to 0.09p, said it has implemented a radical cost cutting programme across the group to preserve its cash reserves in response to sector dynamics.

Focusrite (TUNE) twanged 16.32% lower to 159p on concerns about slower-than-expected initial sales of new products in Q1 of the new financial year and the weaker euro. FY pretax profit rose 12% to GBP6.5m. It has proposed a maiden final dividend of 1.2p, making 1.8p for the year.


Stateside, US wholesale inventories totalled USD585.9bn in October, down 0.1% from the revised September level but 3.6% up on the year, US Department of Commerce said. September's flash estimate was revised down USD1.5bn, or 0.3%.

Back in Europe, Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee said in its meeting minutes that a US interest rate hike next week could lead to the possible volatility of capital flows to and from emerging markets.

Germany's seasonally adjusted trade surplus fell to 22.5bn euros in October, as exports and imports declined, from 22.8bn euros in September, data from Federal Statistical Office showed.


Entertainment One (ETO) firmed 15.97% to 163.4p as it elaborated on the reasoning for a poorly received refinancing. Its CEO bought more than GBP0.18m worth of shares. The release hints strongly at M&A activity. Stagecoach (SGC) crashed 13.76% to 307.1p as it blamed cuts to its FY forecasts on the Paris terror attacks, citing passengers' reluctance to visit major cities.

On the Beach (OTB) was up a sunny 13.26% to 190p as its maiden FY results revealed a 46.5% rise in underlying pretax profit to GBP14.5m, accompanied by a surge in revenue. The group, which floated in September, will soon launch in Norway and start offering long-haul holidays.

AFH Financial (AFHP), down 12.17% to 166p, has raised up to GBP6.5m via a placing of 2.7m new shares and a subscription of up to 1.2m new shares at a discounted 165p. Alternative Networks (AN.), up 11.11% to 450p said FY pretax and operating profits were 33% and 31% higher at GBP13.8m and GBP15.1m respectively. Proposed FY dividend was 16.4p a share, up 13%.

Computer Sciences Corp (CSC) subsidiary CSC Computer Sciences International Operations has agreed a 190p a share offer for Xchanging (XCH), up 9.75% to 192.88p, valuing that latter group at GBP480m. Bilby (BILB), up 7.14% to 127.5p, has declared a maiden H1 dividend of 0.75p a share. Revenues rose 103% to GBP11.62m. Pretax profit was GBP0.07m, from GBP0.69m.

Europa Oil & Gas (EOG), down 7.69% to 3p, has highlighted, at its AGM, significant progress across the outfit's asset base this year and anticipated a step-up in existing UK onshore output in 2016.

EasyHotel (EZH) climbed 7.81% to 69p on a 38% rise in FY pretax profit to GBP0.79m, driven by strong performances at its owned hotels in Glasgow and London’s Old Street. The board has proposed a maiden final dividend of 0.33p a share.

Balfour Beatty (BBY), up 2.12% to 267.95p, said its 'Build to Last' transformation programme continues to gain traction, as new standardised processes and controls are rolled out across the businesses. It expected to be net cash positive at year's end.

Other stocks in the news included Savannah Resources (SAV), Alpha Pyrenees Trust (ALPH), Ophir Energy (OPHR), Petra Diamonds (PDL), Carillion (CLLN), Netcall (NET), Share (SHRE), Sophos (SOPH), Flowgroup (FLOW), Scholium (SCHO), Croma Security Solutions (CSSG), ULS Technology (ULS), Vectura (VEC), Tritax Big Box REIT (BBOX), Workspace (WKP), BBA Aviation (BBA), Devro (DVO), Redhall (RHL), Motive Television (MTV), Scholium (SCHO), SolGold (SOLG) and Begbies Traynor (BEG).

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