- London stocks are mildly higher with traders' mood perusing a flurry of results news and looking ahead to a string of economic data. US President Donald Trump presented steady before Congress last night, easing market caution.

Not long after the open, FTSE 100 was up 40.08 points, or 0.55%, to 7303.52, within striking range of its record closing high set in January. FTSE 250 was up 1.24, or 0.01%, to 18,771.

At 8.32am, safe-haven gold as well as silver were modestly lower, while copper was firmly ahead. WTI and Brent crude prices were mildly down. The US dollar was rising.

Miners, insurers and banks figured prominently on the list of blue-chip risers. Next (NXT) added 3.59% to 3964.5p, and was followed by GKN (GKN), ahead 3.04% to 370.85p. CRH (CRH) was next cab in the rank, up 2.39% to 2785p, as its FY pretax profit flew up 69%.

Thereafter rising miners were guided by BHP Billiton (BLT), up 2.22% to 1326.25p, Glencore (GLEN) and Rio Tinto (RIO). Banks followed HSBC (HSBA), ahead 1.74% to 657.75p, RBS (RBS) and Standard Chartered (STAN). Several insurers chased Prudential (PRU), up 1.48% to 1631.25p.

Bunzl (BNZL) added 1.33% to 2285p as it agreed to acquire Diversified Distribution Systems in the US. Wolseley (WOS) rose 0.61% to 4945p as it appointed a new CFO, and ITV (ITV) gained 0.67% to 203.85p on booking a broadly flat FY pretax profit and improved dividend.

To the downside, gold-sensitive miners Fresnillo (FRES), off 2.25% to 1452.5p, and Randgold (RRS), down 1.43% to 7402.5p, were in focus. Royal Mail (RMG) shed 1.51% to 408.35p as Ofcom determined regulatory intervention was not needed for the postal outfit.

Other blue-chip sectors lower included some commercial property and utilities.


Igas Energy (IGAS) fell 35.78% to 5.51p as it revealed talks with a strategic investor related to a potential investment of $35m in cash equity. This was dependent on the successful restructuring of its secured and unsecured bonds. It also planned to raise extra equity at a placing price of about 4.5p a share.

Proxama (PROX), up 13.33% to 0.43p, said it is part of a collaboration that has been awarded a contract from Innovate UK to design and implement a smart transportation model for the Greater Manchester City Region.

SerVision (SEV), up 12.5% to 5.63p, has received the first payment of $1.0m in relation to the $2.0m of new capital from Cascade SVP, LLC. The second tranche of $1.0m was due from Cascade in 90 days from Feb. 22.


DX Group (DX.) slid 9.26% to 8.62p is mulling its options after its proposed plans for the development of a new central hub at a site in Essington, West Midlands, were declined at the local authority planning hearing held last night.

Man Group (EMG), down 6.42% to 137p, said funds under management rose 3% to $80.9bn in the year to end-December. Statutory pretax loss was $272m, from a profit of $184m.

Elementis (ELM), down 6.39% to 280.45p, said group sales fell to $659.5m in the year to end-December, from $677.2m a year earlier. IFRS pretax profit was $75.5m, from $120.8m.

Northern Petroleum (NOP), down 5.93% to 4.68p, said Shell Italia E&P S.p.A has initiated a local engagement programme in relation to the Cascina Alberto permit, onshore northern Italy.

Starvest (SVE), up 5% to 2.63p, has swung from a hefty FY loss to pretax profit. Pretax profit was £81,113, from a restated loss of £3.3m. The comparative period included £3.2m written off against trade investments, versus £382,594 in the just-finished year.

Mitie Group (MTO), up 2.47% to 211.8p, has sold its UK social care division, comprising Enara Group Ltd and Complete Care Holdings Ltd, to Apposite Capital LLP for £2 cash. Mitie would contribute £9.45m to the funding of trading losses and the cost of the turnaround plan.

Inchcape (INCH), up 3.23% to 774.75p, said FY revenues rose to £7.8bn in 2016, up 14.7% in actual currency and up 7.6% at constant currencies. Pretax profits before exceptional items rose to £349.4m, from £312.1m last time.

Carillion (CLLN), down 1.92% to 214.8p, has posted FY results in line with forecasts, with total revenues up 14% at £5.2bn and group revenues up 11% at £4.4bn. Underlying pretax profit rose 1% to £178.0m.

Costain (COST), up 1.86% to 396.25p, reports a strong performance for the year to the end of December with significant increases in both revenue and underlying operating profit and a recommended 15% increase in the final dividend.

Other stocks in the news included MySale (MYSL), ZPG (ZPG), Vertu Motors (VTU), SDX Energy (SDX), Riverstone Energy (RSE), Polymetal (POLY), Sula Iron & Gold (SULA), Rosslyn Data Technologies (RDT), Groupe Eurotunnel (GET) and Tekcapital (TEK).

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