- The services sector in the UK experienced its strongest rise in activity in 2017 so far, thanks to growth in business activity and new work, which boosted the pound 0.4% against the euro.

The Purchasing Managers' Index jumped from 53.3 in February to 55 in March.

Miners and oil giants remained on top as strong commodity prices helped the stocks maintained momentum.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil eased back to $51 and $54.38 per barrel, respectively.

Gold fell 0.6% to $1,247 per ounce and copper rallied 2% to $5,864 per ounce.


Banks in the US helped the Dow Jones and S&P 500 rise 0.7% and 0.5% respectively on Wednesday. A private report also revealed the fastest pace of hiring in the US since 2014.

This was also the focus in Asia as investors brushed off concerns following North Korea's test-firing of a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.

Shanghai's SSE Composite rallied 1.5% on Wednesday, while indexes in Japan and Hong Kong made smaller advances.


DCC (DCC) announced that DCC Energy agreed with Shell Gas Holdings BV to acquire its liquefied petroleum gas business in Hong Kong and Macau based on an enterprise value of HK$1.165bn (£120m). The stock advanced 1.8% to £71.45.


Commercialisation of technology play Allied Minds (ALM) said it would be undertaking a restructuring, reallocating capital and management resources across the portfolio and pipeline to accelerate commercialisation. It would result in discontinued funding for seven subsidiaries, triggering a drop of 28.2% to 187.3p.

The UK's leading retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone (MCS) nudged 1.4% lower to 182.4p after its first-half pre-tax profit fell 25% amid trading constrained by a lower forward order book. Management blamed uncertainty following the Brexit vote for the disappointing results.

Housebuilder Bovis Homes (BVS) walked away from merger talks with Galliford Try (GFRD) and appointed ex-Galliford boss Greg Fitzgerald as its new chief executive. Bovis gained 5.4% to 892p and Galliford was up 0.6% to £14.71.


London housebuilder Telford Homes (TEF) was more positive than its peers in a pre-close trading update which said it expected record revenue and profit for the year to 31 March, ahead of expectations. The stock was marked 2.3% up at 368.2p.

Chinese medicine manufacturer Taihua (TAIH) reported it wants a general meeting to seek shareholder approval to cancel its listing on AIM and to re-register the company as a private firm. Over half of its value was wiped off, which left the shares stagnant at 1.2p.

Equipment rental business HSS Hire (HSS) reversed 11% to 59.8p as its adjusted pre-tax profit was flat at £5.8m. Management said it was a year of significant operational change and investment to ensure sustainable profit growth.

Real Good Food (RGD) acquired an 84.3% stake in Brighter Foods for up to £9m, on a cash and debt free basis. The deal was expected to be immediately earnings enhancing to the group. Investors recognised the value of the deal as the stock jumped 26.4% to 31.6p.

Miner Firestone Diamonds (FDI), sparked 14% to 51p following the recovery of its largest diamond to date, which was a 110 carat gem-quality light yellow diamond, at its Liqhobong diamond mine.

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