- London shares opened cautiously higher as traders embrace a swag of results news, but look tentatively ahead to Chancellor Philip Hammond's Spring Budget at 12.30pm, with an eye to any Brexit-related material in it.

In early deals the FTSE 100 was up 1.22 points, or 0.02%, to 7340.21, with FTSE 250 up 13.74, or 0.07%, to 18,899.7. At 8.40am, WTI crude was down 0.75% to $52.74/bbl and Brent was down 0.52% to $55.63/bbl. The prices of gold, silver and copper were all mildly lower.

Mining stocks were broadly ahead behind Glencore (GLEN), up 1.3% to 324.15p, and Antofagasta (ANTO), up 1.06% to 789.25p. Banks were also rising, in the wake of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), ahead 0.46% to 240p, and Lloyds (LLOY), up 67.73p.

Despite the FTSE 100's minor gain, about 62 blue chips were lower and about 38 were up. Most moves were of considerably less than 1%. However, markets very sensitive to any Brexit-linked news and also the Spring Budget, this afternoon might bring more trader activity.

In the news, Admiral (ADM) fell 0.89% to 1783p on saying its FY statutory pretax profits fell 24% to £278.4m. The group's share of profit before tax before using the new Ogden discount rate was up 3% at £389.7m. After using the new rate if fell 25% to £284.3m.

Legal & General (LGEN), down 0.57% to 252.75p has reported a 'terrific financial performance in 2016' with pre-tax profits up 17% at £1.6bn.


Bagir Group (BAGR) rose 58.06% to 6.12p as it delivered a turnaround in trading performance, reversing losses, clearing all bank debt, reducing total cost base by about 30% and investing in its future growth.

Europa Oil & Gas (EOG) gained 26.32% to 6p has signed a farm-out agreement with a subsidiary of leading operator Cairn Energy in relation to a 70% interest in and operatorship of Licensing Option 16/19. Europa would retain a 30% interest in the licence.

Solo Oil (SOLO), down 19.62% to 0.64p, and Aminex (AEX), down 22.68% to 5.2p, confirmed the Ntorya-2 appraisal well has now been successfully flow tested and is being suspended for future gas production.


Bezant Resources (BZT) gained 12.5% to 2.25p said a scoping study confirmed the technical and economic feasibility of alluvial platinum (Pt) and gold (Au) production at the Choco Project, in Western Colombia, based on historical data and drilling results.

WANdisco (WAND), down 11.99% to 470p, has reduced its FY pretax loss to $10.0m, from a year-earlier loss of $31.0m. Revenue was $11.4m, from $10.99m.

Dignity (DTY), down 10.98% to 2460.5p, said its FY underlying pre-tax profits rose 4% to £75.2m. Revenues were up 3% at £313.6m. Trading in the first few weeks of 2017 has continued to be strong. Historical data suggested deaths in 2017 could be significantly lower than 2016's 590,000.

Providence Resources (PVR), up 9.84% to 16.75p, has signed a Farm-in Agreement (FIA) with Capricorn Ireland Ltd, a subsidiary of Cairn Energy, over FEL 2/14 with an effective date of July 1, 2016.

OptiBiotix Health (OPTI), up 7.04% to 76p, has entered into a manufacturing and supply agreement with Sacco Srl. G4S (GFS), up 8.77% to 290.85p, saw good progress with its transformation strategy in 2016 with revenues from continuing businesses up 6.3% at £6,823m and earnings up 16.6% at £246m.

The Restaurant Group (RTN), up 3.94% to 340.2p, has booked a statutory pretax loss was £39.5m, from a year-earlier profit of £86.8m. Exceptional charges were £116.7m, primarily for site closures, asset impairments and provision for onerous leases.

Northern Petroleum (NOP), up 1.09% to 5.08p, has signed an agreement to acquire production wells and facilities located within the area of the company's existing Rainbow assets in Alberta.

Sound Energy (SOU), down 0.98% to 87.63p, confirmed drilling of the Badile exploration well, onshore Italy, commenced on 7 March 2017. Wood Group (WG.), up 0.07% to 762p, has begun the second of two site construction services contracts to support development of a new tissue production site for Sofidel in Central Ohio.

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