StockMarketWire.com - London equities are mixed in early deals, with the blue-chip up a smidgen and the mid cap down a jot. Pearson is in particular southbound focus as the market responds very negatively to a trading update.

Pearson (PSON), down 24.29% to 611.75p, said it expects to deliver operating profit in line with guidance for 2016, despite a further unprecedented decline in Q4 2016 in its North American higher education courseware business. It intended to rebase its dividend from 2017 onwards.

Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was up 7.35 points, or 0.1%, to 7227.73, while FTSE 250 was down 15.28, or 0.08%, to 18,225.7. At 8.31am, WTI crude was up 0.38% to $52.68/bbl and Brent was up 0.47% to $55.73/bbl. Gold was down 0.01% to $1212.8/oz, with silver was up and copper down.

Prominent blue-chip risers included a palette of tobacco, pharmas, consumer goods, retail, utilities and oil stocks, with about 56 making gains and roughly 44 lower.

Burberry (BRBY), up 0.5% to 1601p, said its retail revenue rose to £735m in Q3, up 4% on an underlying basis and up 22% at reported FX.

Dixons Carphone (DC.) firmed 2.29% to 354.45p, while British American Tobacco (BATS) added 1.72% to 4658.75p. Hikma (HIK) rose 1.65% to 1945.5p, while Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) improved 1.23% to 6855p. Also up was United Utilities (UU.) by 0.96% to 895.5p.

Among the oil majors, Shell (RDSA) marched 0.39% higher to 2250.5p, while BP (BP.)improved 0.36% to 503.8p. Several commercial property stocks accelerated, as did some leisure and a number of lenders and several financials.

To the downside, besides Pearson, the story was more financials, along with a posse of house builders. Experian (EXPN), down 2.79% to 1534p, has maintained its FY guidance following organic revenue growth of 4% in Q3.

Anglo American (AAL) guided miners with its fall of 1.32% to 1306.5p, while Glencore (GLEN) faded 1.18% to 311.48p. In residential real estate, Barratt (BDEV) dropped 1.01% to 515.75p, while Taylor Wimpey (TW.) also ebbed 1.01% to 171.25p.

Meantime, Vodafone (VOD), up 0.53% to 208.75p, has announced a partnership agreement with Tele2 for Sweden, Latvia and Lithuania, and renewed a strategic partnership agreement with TDC Group for Denmark and Norway.

ECONOMIC NEWS

the market is looking to UK employment-related data, along with German consumer-price index (CPI) numbers. This afternoon, US CPI, industrial production and capacity utilisation data will be in focus.

BIGGER MOVERS

Fitbug (FITB) was up 45.45% to 0.24p as it confirmed securing an initial 1-year corporate wellness programme, which included ongoing service revenue, together with an order for 14,000 devices.

Blenheim Natural Resources (BNR) rose 26.51% to 0.53p on it being granted an option to acquire a 30% interest in the Dieba exploration permit in Southern Mali, adjacent to Birimian Limited's Bougouni Lithium Project. It also confirmed it had raised £750,000 at 0.35p in an oversubscribed conditional placing to make further investments.

Midwich (MIDW), up 20.54% to 270p, anticipates reporting adjusted profit before tax for 2016 comfortably ahead of its previous expectations.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Premier Foods (PFD) fell 15.35% to 40.63p as it as said despite strong December sales (up 4.5%), its Q3 sales were weak and down 1.0%. Its FY 2016/17 trading profit expectations were now 10% lower than previously anticipated.

Urals Energy (UEN) firmed 12.9% to 4.38p as it said its total oil production in 2016 was 756,690 barrels. It is also proposing a capital reduction, share consolidation and dividend policy.

Tribal (TRB), up 12.56% to 72.88p, said that following a good H2 its directors believe revenues would be in line with its expectations for the year to 31 December 2016 and that the overall performance would be materially ahead.

PowerHouse Energy (PHE), up 12.5% to 0.68p, has entered into a co-operation agreement to appoint Waste2tricity plc as its project development consultant on an initial 24-month contract.

Quartix Holdings (QTX), down 10% to 270p, said revenue for the year to Dec. 31, 2016, is anticipated to be slightly ahead of market expectations, with profit seen in line with views.

Mitie Group (MTO), down 9.88% to 185.2p, now expects its FY underlying operating profit to be in the range of £60m to £70m, including ongoing healthcare losses, but before the previously disclosed £10m one-off costs of change.

FDM (FDM), up 7.12% to 628.25p, expects results for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016, to be ahead of its forecasts. A trading statement said that FDM and its subsidiaries performed well in H2.

Hochschild Mining (HOC), up 4.53% to 243.35p, said its output rose to a record 17.3m ounces of silver in 2016. It produced 246.1 thousand ounces of gold; 35.5m silver-equivalent ounces, up 31% versus 2015, (27.0m ounces) and 479.6 thousand gold-equivalent ounces (2015: 365.4 thousand ounces).

Other stocks in the news included Henry Boot (BHY), Ladbrokes Coral (LCL), Redefine (RDI), NewRiver REIT (NRR), NAHL (NAH), Mercia Technologies (MERC), JD Wetherspoon (JDW), Lavendon (LVD), Watkin Jones (WJG), Diploma (DPLM), OptiBiotix Health (OPTI), Christie & Co (CTG), Faroe Petroleum (FPM) and Afarak (AFRK).



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