StockMarketWire.com - London stocks continued to fly ahead as traders came forth to nab value buys, with a heady stream of corporate news also providing buying spurs. This as Europe made solid gains. Blue-chip risers were guided by RSA Insurance (RSA), Lloyds (LLOY) and resources issues.

To noon, FTSE 100 was up 126.29 points, or 2.15%, to 5993.47. FTSE 250 was up 236.57, or 1.47%, to 16,354.1. At 11.45am, WTI crude was at USD31.92/bbl and Brent was at USD34.02/bbl. Gold was at USD1235/oz and UK 10-year gilt yields were at 1.39%.

Investors lapped up RSA Insurance (RSA), rising 12.26% to 442.85p on a 17.4% surge in its FY pretax profit to GBP323m. Total dividend was 10.5p a share. Lloyds (LLOY), up 9.81% to 68.3p, posted a 5% rise in FY underlying profits to GBP8.1bn, also lowering its total bonus outcome.

Other financial stocks -- specifically banks and insurers -- were also rising, and these were aided by resources. Anglo American (AAL) rose 6.99% to 438.38p, while Glencore (GLEN) added 5.1% to 122.28p. Oilies followed Shell (RDSA), up 4.19% to 1609.75p, and BP (BP.), up 3.02% to 345.13p. Multiple utilities and leisure outfits firmed, too.

Roughly 90 blue chips progressed, 75 by more than 1% and 50 by 2% or greater. Most sectors were represented. Telecoms sortied north after BT (BT.), up 3.49% to 474.43p, and high-street retail trailed Sports Direct (SPD), up 3.57% to 395.75p. Commercial property titans were guided by Land Securities (LAND), rising 2.74% to 993.5p.

Capita (CPI) lost 5.97% to 1008p and led to the downside. as FY results showed solid progress in EPS and dividends, but the news was not as good on the bid pipeline front, which fell to GBP4.7bn, from GBP5.1bn. Chairman Martin Bolland is to step down this year. House builders Berkeley (BKG) and Barratt (BDE) were mildly lower.

MORE NEWS OF NOTE

Merlin Entertainments (MERL), up 2 445.5p, has marginally improved its FY pretax profit to GBP250m, from GBP249m. Dividend was 6.5p a share, from 6.2p, while revenue rose to GBP1.28bn, from GBP1.25bn.

South32 (S32), up 5.05% to 59.88p, as posted a statutory H1 loss of USD1.7bn, including non-cash impairment-related charges of USD1.7bn and from a prior-same-period profit of USD339m. It declared no dividend for the period.

St James's Place (STJ), down 1.34% to 868p, has posted a FY IFRS profit before shareholders' tax of GBP151.3m, from GBP182.9m. Final dividend was 17.24p a share, from 14.37p, taking the total to 27.96p, up 20%.

British American Tobacco (BATS), down 0.12% to 3829.5p, reports 'an excellent performance' for FY. Cigarette volume fell by 0.5% to 663bn. Adjusted group profit from operations was GBP4.99bn, up 4.0% at constant rates of exchange.

BIGGER MOVERS

Red Leopard (RLH), up 42.86% to 0.05p, said market conditions are showing signs of recovery and that now is the time to progress their plans for the Idora Tunnel. Tlou Energy (TLOU), up 26.67% to 4.75p, noted the start of gas production testing from the Selemo 1 pilot well, at its Lesedi CBM Project. Initial results were encouraging.

Solid State (SOLI), DOWN 40% TO 315P, said the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is terminating its contract for Electronic Monitoring Hardware with subsidiary Steatite Ltd. Beowulf Mining (BEM) dived 29.35% to 4.38p on a heavily-discounted fundraising. It has secured GBP1.25m to fund exploration work by issuing new shares at 3.25p each.

Crimson Tide (TIDE), up 25.89% to 3.53p, expects its FY pretax profit will be higher than market expectations and significantly higher than for the previous year. Turnover is seen in line with market views.

ECONOMIC NEWS

UK second-estimate gross domestic product (GDP) growth for Q4 2015 came in at 0.5%, precisely in line with forecasts and from 0.5% in Q3. Elsewhere, German consumer sentiment looks good to improve in March. GfK's German consumer climate index is set to be 9.5 points in March, from 9.4 in February and against forecasts for 9.2.

Euro-zone M3 Money supply rose 5% in January, against the 4.7% predicted and previously. Meantime, euro-zone private-sector loans rose 0.8% in January, on the year, and up on December's 0.8% gain.

Euro-zone's consumer price index (CPI) for January printed at 0.3%, which was below the expected and previous reading of 0.4%. Core CPI came in at 1%, as expected and unchanged from previously.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Serco (SRP), up 16.13% to 94.88p, has narrowed its FY pretax loss to GBP69.4m, from a loss of GBP990.5m. Net revenue was GBP3.18bn, from GP3.6bn. There was no dividend. Coats (COA), up 11.24% to 24.75p, has booked a FY operating profit up 19% at USD139m on a like-for-like basis and before exceptional items.

Molins' (MLIN), down 14.65% to 67p, FY pretax profit has come it at GBP2m, from GBP3.9m, with revenue at GBP87m, from GBP87.4m. Proposed final dividend was 1.5p, taking the total to 4p a share.

National Express (NEX), up 9.21% to 322.5p, has hiked its FY statutory pretax profit to GBP109.1m, from GBP60.6m. This was accompanied with a 10% rise in FY proposed dividend to 11.33p, from 10.3p.

UBM (UBM) gained 7.4% to 573.5p as FY numbers came in ahead of expectations and it flagged continuing good growth in 2016.

SafeCharge (SCH), up 3.51% to 250.5p, said Paddy Power Betfair has selected its Personalised Cashier to facilitate the checkout journey of its players globally. Kaz Minerals (KAZ), up 5.34% to 152.75p, has swung to a FY pretax profit of USD12m, from a prior-year loss of USD169m. Revenue was USD665m, from USD846m. No dividend was recommended.

Other stocks in the news included Howden Joinery (HWDN), Bodycote's (BOY), Galliford Try (GFRD), Zoopla (ZPLA), James Fisher (FSJ) and Countrywide (CWD).



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