- London equities remained southbound to midday but were off earlier lows as crude oil prices staged a tepid rally, which saw a string of retail-related and property stocks replace oilies as the main blue-chip ballast. Europe fell less than 0.5%.

To noon, FTSE 100 was down 46.45, or 0.79%, to 5830.55. FTSE 250 was down 81.7, or 0.51%, to 16,065.3. At 11.36am, crude was at about USD30.5/bbl, earlier softness caused by Saudi Arabia suggesting black-liquid prices will continue to suffer. Gold was at USD1113/oz, down a jot.

Mondi (MNDI), down 2.81% to 1158.5p, led blue-chip losers. Retail was in greater focus. Kingfisher (KGF) shed 2.66% to 315.3p, chased by Sainsbury (SBRY) and Next (NXT). Dixons Carphone (DC.) fell 1.54% to 459.9p despite a bumper Xmas and an outlook that sees FY profits beating consensus.

EasyJet (EZJ) flew in 2.45% lower at 1591p despite a steady December-quarter update, with the broader leisure-linked sector hurting, too. Commercial property fell after Intu (INTU), down 1.75% to 289.15p, with utilities following United Utilities (UU.), off 1.22% to 912.25p.

Banks fell on jitters that the sector may not yet be free of PPI mis-selling settlements, while oil majors were among the smallest blue-chip fallers as crude recovered. A few less than 80 top-100 outfits lost traction, with the 22 risers studded with big-ticket miners and a few trend-bucking banks. Antofagasta (ANTO) rose 7.12% to 242.73p.


PZ Cussons (PZC) is in a lather, off 11.04% to 243.4p on lacklustre interims and a cautious outlook statement. Sales and operating profit were broadly flat due to tough trading conditions in Nigeria, as well as the impact of weaker currencies in Asia and Africa.

Avon Rubber (AVON), down 12.86% to 72.25p, as it confirmed soft dairy-market conditions in Q1, but directors remains confident in the potential of the group to generate and deliver against long-term growth opportunities on both sides of the business.

Biome Technologies (BIOM) rose 9.62% to 142.5p as its directors expect the outfit's FY 2015 financial performance to be above the market's current views. Trading in 2016 has started encouragingly.

Avacta (AVCT) flew up 9739.4% to 122.5p after a one-for-one-hundred share consolidation.


Carpetright (CPR), down 8.33% to 412.5p, said UK sales in the four weeks to Jan. 23 rose 6.0% on a like-for-like basis and the group's FY views are unchanged. UK sales for the twelve-week period rose 2.4% on a like-for-like basis but total sales fell 1.3%. Gross margin guidance disappointed.

Crest Nicholson (CRST) advanced 6.05% to 543.5p. The outfit has unveiled robust progress across volumes, sales and margin through to landbank and dividends. Mariana Resources (MARL), down 4.69% to 1.53p, has signed a comprehensive agreement with Joint Venture partner Lidya Madencilik Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S.

Marston's (MARS) added 6.01% to 159.75p after record Christmas sales. Like-for-like sales in its destination and premium pubs rose 4.9% over the festive fortnight and by 3% in the 16 weeks to Jan. 23, up on views. Volumes of its own-brewed beer rose 21% year to date.

Colefax (CFX), down 5.24% to 452.5p, has booked an H1 pretax profit of GBP3.27m, up 13% up on last time. It sees H2 trading conditions as more challenging. Imperial Innovations (IVO), down 3.66% to 358.38p, portfolio company Inivata has completed a GBP31.5m series A fundraising.

Imperial Innovations (IVO) slid 3.66% to 358.38p after committing GBP10m to a GBP31.5m fundraising for portfolio company Inivata, a cancer diagnostic developer. The deal adds to Innovation’s original GBP1.5 million investment and gives it 30% of the business.

Egdon Resources (EDR) added 4.75% to 8.38p as it agreed a farm-out with Union Jack Oil (UJO), up 4.35% to 0.12p, of the Laughton-1 exploration well and two other conventional prospects in its PEDL209 licence.

XLMedia (XLM) weakened 3.56% to 61p on launching a strategic review. It would consider all options to maximise shareholder value. This could include acquiring or merging with another company, raising funds from a third party or a sale of the business.

Other stocks in the news included Purplebricks (PURP), DiamondCorp (DCP), Soco International (SIA), Mi-Pay (MPAY), Lamprell (LAM), Restore (RST), Stock Spirits Group (STCK), Sphere Medical (SPHR), Card Factory (CARD), Tern (TERN), Plexus (POS), X5 Retail (FIVE), Ashley House (ASH) and Avocet Mining (AVM). Story provided by