- London shares are barely moved in early deals with the FTSE 100 up a jot and the FTSE 250 down an ace, as investors brace themselves for Prime Minister Theresa May formally beginning Brexit talks with the EU next week.

Soon after the open, the FTSE 100 was up 1.36 points, or 0.02%, to 7342.07, while the FTSE 250 was down 7.39, or 0.04%, to 18,994.9. At 8.34am, WTI crude was up 0.27% to $47.83/bbl and Brent was up 0.14% to $50.63/bbl. Gold was down 0.48% to $1244.10/oz. Silver and copper eased.

Blue-chip gains were led by Smiths Group (SMIN), up 4.27% to 1622.5p, after its well-received FY numbers. Pretax profit was £248m, up 31%, with revenue coming in at £1.6bn, up 18%. Interim dividend was 13.55p a share, up from 13.25p. Its outlook for 2017 unchanged.

Miners tended higher with Fresnillo (FRES) adding 1.37% to 1557p and Anglo American (AAL) adding 0.84% to 1264p. In the wider retail sector, Morrisons (MRW), Burberry (BRBY) and Tesco (TSCO) all rose after yesterday's UK retail sales.

Others in the retail sector fell, however. Kingfisher (KGF) lost 1.49% to 317.9p, Marks & Spencer (MKS) faded 1.22% to 333.2p, Sainsbury (SBRY) shed 0.19% to 266.1p, and Next (NXT) lost 1.04% to 4155.5p.

Utilities were broadly firmer in the wake of National Grid (NG.), up 0.87% to 1016.25p, as were a string of financials including Barclays (BARC) up 0.8% to 225.7p, Provident Financial (PFG) up 2.25% to 2994p and Worldpay (WPG) up 0.4% to 291.05. More followed.

House builders such as Taylor Wimpey (TW.), down 0.72% to 193.4p, were on the back foot, as were several commercial property companies.

Land Securities (LAND), down 0.24% to 1050.5p, would soon complete demolition of the existing buildings at 21 Moorfields in central London. It was in talks with Deutsche Bank regarding a pre-let for the development. There was no guarantee these talks would lead to a transaction.


Tethys Petroleum (TPL) was down 50% to 0.88p after applying to the UK listing authority to cancel the standard listings of its shares. The company had decided the costs of maintaining a dual listing in London and Toronto was too expensive. It would remain listed in Toronto.

Minoan Group (MIN) was up 41.51% to 9.38p after reports in the Greek media stated the appeals against the Presidential Decree granting land use approval for its Project in Crete have been rejected by the Greek Supreme Court.

Digital Barriers (DGB), down 17.74% to 25.5p, warned it faced a shortfall in FY revenues of about £10m if contracts currently under negotiation were not signed by the end of March. However, it noted that it expected to secure all of these awards.

Shares in Ortac Resources (OTC) were up a phenomenal 10,971%% to 3.88p. Earlier in March, the company announced a one-for-100 capital reorganisation.


Tiziana Life Sciences (TILS) fell 14.89% to 171.5p after it received a notification from warrant holders to exercise warrants over 1.8m shares at an exercise price of 32p each, providing gross proceeds of &pound572,648.

PowerHouse Energy (PHE), up 10.81% to 1.03p, said its G3-UHt ultra-high temperature gasification demonstration unit had been delivered to its initial recommissioning site near Manchester.

Tlou Energy (TLOU), down 10.71% to 6.25p, has successfully raised a A$5.2m in a placement of 51.8m new shares at A$0.10 each, with proceeds being used for a variety of purposes as the company also unveiled a share purchase plan.

Ariana Resources (AAU), up 10.67% to 2.08p, has completed its first dore pour of 5.25kg of gold-silver at the Kiziltepe mine in Turkey. Kiziltepe is part of the 50-50 Red Rabbit joint venture with Proccea Construction Co.

IG Design Group (IGR), up 8.88% to 288p, has confirmed revenues for the year to March 31 were expected to achieve record levels and exceed £300m. It also expected profitability to be ahead of current market forecasts.

Robinson (RBN), down 6.37% to 125p, has more than doubled its FY pretax profit on the back of a slip in revenue in what it described as a difficult market. "Although we anticipated a difficult market in 2016, we had expected growth from new business in the pipeline," it said.

The Parkmead Group (PMG), up 5.75% to 46p, has marginally narrowed its H1 pretax loss to £4.5m, from a loss of £4.6m. Looking ahead, Cross said Parkmead was well positioned to take advantage of the ongoing lower oil price and the opportunities that arose from this.

Other stocks in the news included Concurrent Technologies (CNC), Lamprell (LAM), Henry Boot (BHY), CentralNic (CNIC), Syncona (SYNC), easyHotel (EZH) and Eurasia Mining (EUA).

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