StockMarketWire.com - London equities flew to a higher close with the rate of value-hunting gains easing as Wall St opened mixed. Europe was firmly northbound. Crude oil prices fluttered throughout the session, with gold prices and UK gilt yields responding similarly.

FTSE 100 ended up 145.63 points, or 2.48%, to 6012.81. FTSE 250 was up 281.57, or 1.75%, to 16,399.1. At 4.36pm, WTI crude was at USD31.13/bbl and Brent was at USD33.41/bbl, both down from earlier. Gold was at USD1239/oz and UK 10-year gilt yields were at 1.35%.

For the moment investors appear sanguine about the prospects for the global economy, but chronic concerns about China's growth outlook, a worldwide crude glut and on-going tensions in the Middle East remain ever-present downside risks. Roughly 95 blue chips rose, 53 by more than 1%.

Lloyds (LLOY), up 13.54% to 70.62p, posted a 5% rise in FY underlying profits to GBP8.1bn, also lowering its total bonus outcome. RSA Insurance (RSA), rose 9.82% to 433.25p on a 17.4% surge in its FY pretax profit to GBP323m. Total dividend was 10.5p a share.

More financials were scattered across the winners' ladder, as were retail and leisure. Sports Direct (SPD) stacked up 4.54% to 399.45p. Merlin Entertainments (MERL) added 4.23% to 453.1p on lifting its FY pretax profit to GBP250m, from GBP249m, with an improved dividend.

Commercial property traced Land Securities (LAND), up 3.08% to 996.75p, while oilies gathered behind Shell (RDSA), up 2.73% to 1587.25p. Also rising were a clutch of house builders, and further back a bevy of utilities. Supermarkets did well after Tesco (TSCO), gaining 2.12% to 180.45p, while pharmas followed Glaxosmithkline (GSK), up 3.38% to 1406.5p.

MORE NEWS OF NOTE

Capita (CPI) lost 5.27% to 1015.5p 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.

South32 (S32), up 4.18% to 59.38p, 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), up 2.25% to 875.75p and reversing earlier softness, 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), up 1.14% to 3877.75p, also volte face on its earlier turn, reported an excellent performance for its 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

Earthport (EPO), down 28.12% to 17.88p, said forex subsidiary Baydonhill has experienced a potentially material financial loss relating to one of its corporate customers. As a result, the company is exposed to a maximum potential loss of GBP5m.

Solid State (SOLI), down 34.29% to 345p, said the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is terminating its contract for Electronic Monitoring Hardware with subsidiary Steatite Ltd. 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.

Ferrum Crescent (FCR), down 30% to 0.14p, has received applications to subscribe for 149.68m new shares at a price of GBP0.0012 each, to raise GBP179,618 gross. Beowulf Mining (BEM) dived 31.45% to 4.25p on a heavily-discounted fundraising. It has secured GBP1.25m to fund exploration work by issuing new shares at 3.25p each.

ECONOMIC NEWS

Stateside, US house prices rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.4% in December, Federal Housing Finance Agency's House Price Index showed. Meantime, US initial jobless claims rose to 272,000 in the week to Feb. 20, up 10,000 on the week, US Department of Labor said today.

New orders for US-manufactured durable goods rose USD11.1bn, or 4.9%, to USD237.5bn in January, US Census Bureau said. Core durables rose 1.8% in January, the bureau said.

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'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.

OTHER LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Tlou Energy (TLOU), up 23.33% to 4.63p, noted the start of gas production testing from the Selemo 1 pilot well, at its Lesedi CBM Project. Initial results were encouraging.

SolGold (SOLG), up 15.29% to 2.45p, said hole 16 at the Cascabel copper-gold porphyry project in Ecuador is at a depth of 973m and has intersected continuous visible copper mineralisation shallower than expected, from 568m.

Crimson Tide (TIDE), up 16.07% to 3.25p, 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.

Coats (COA), up 13.48% to 25.25p, has booked a FY operating profit up 19% at USD139m on a like-for-like basis and before exceptional items. Serco (SRP), up 16.16% to 94.9p, has narrowed its FY pretax loss to GBP69.4m, from a loss of GBP990.5m. There was no dividend.

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 9.63% to 323.75p, has hiked its FY statutory pretax profit to GBP109.1m, from GBP60.6m. Proposed dividend was 11.33p, from 10.3p.

UBM (UBM) gained 9.08% to 582.5p as FY numbers came in ahead of expectations and it flagged continuing good growth in 2016. Premier Oil (PMO), down 5.75% to 38.88p, was one of the sector's biggest fallers after its FY pretax losses rose to USD829.6m, from USD362.5m. Its FY production exceeded guidance.

Other stocks in the news included Howden Joinery (HWDN), SafeCharge (SCH), Kaz Minerals (KAZ), Bodycote (BOY), Galliford Try (GFRD), Zoopla (ZPLA), James Fisher (FSJ) and Countrywide (CWD).




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