- The FTSE 100 was flat at 7,475 as voters surged to polling stations to elect the new Prime Minister in the snap UK general election.

Investors were cautious as they awaited the results on Friday and also awaited the European Central Bank's policy decision later today.

Brent crude oil rose 0.7% to $48.41 per barrel.

Gold fell 0.5% to $1,283 per ounce.


On Wall Street, the market brushed off former FBI director James Comey's statement ahead of his hotly-anticipated appearance in front of Congress on Thursday. The S&P 500 advanced 0.1% to 2,433 on Wednesday.

Japanese equities were among the weakest in Asia as the country grew less than expected in the first quarter.

Gross domestic product in the country was up 1%, down from optimistic growth estimates of 2.2%. The Nikkei 225 fell 0.4% to 19,909 on Thursday.


Auto Trader (AUTO) warned new car registrations were likely to decline in 2017 as more people were expected to buy cheaper used cars and display advertising growth was anticipated to slow. The downbeat outlook overshadowed decent full year results as the stock was marked 5.2% lower to 409.4p.

Scandal-hit Petrofac (PFC) rallied 3.2% to 360.2p on a long-term framework agreement with Petroleum Development Oman to provide engineering, procurement and construction management services. Shares in Petrofac recently dived after its chief operating officer Marwan Chedid was suspended over alleged corruption..

Elsewhere, Workspace (WKP) confirmed media speculation that it was 'in discussions' concerning the potential acquisition of Salisbury House for £158m. Investors were optimistic that a deal was on the cards as the stock gained 3.9% to 910.5p.

The market was unimpressed by Ultra Electronics' (ULE) contract win valued at $10m from the UK Ministry of Defence as the stock was marked 1.7% lower at £20.98. The electromechanical systems manufacturer reported its oceans systems business would produce two variants of its Submarine Countermeasure Acoustic Device for the Royal Navy's submarine fleet.

Allied Minds (ALM) failed to gain momentum at 136.9p after Jull Smith's appointment as chief executive officer and its decision to bring in Peter Dolan as chairman. Since the sudden and unexplained departure of its chief executive Chris Silva in March, the tech commercialisation business has struggled on the market.


Among the small caps, investors cheered Bellzone Mining's (BZM) provisional agreement with Guinean ministers over the Kalia mine. The stock rocketed by 143% to 0.7p.

This wasn't the only deal making a splash as tech firm Molins (MLIN) announced a conditional agreement with packaging solutions provider Coesia's subsidiary G.D. The agreement was to sell its instrumentation and tobacco machinery division for £30m, sparking a 24.5% rally to 98.4p.

Online fashion firm (BOO) was 8.5% up at 239.5p on expectations of 60% full year revenue growth thanks to strong trading. This beat previous expectations of 50% sales growth.

Flybe (FLYB) flew 3.8% higher to 34.2p despite dropping into the red in the year to March thanks to lower than expected IT write-downs of £4.8m.

Nektan (NKTN) CEO Leigh Nissim's resignation surprised the market as the stock crashed 20.4% to 28.6p. The company announced it was searching for its successor while former CEO Gary Shaw took over the role in the interim period.

The market was reassured by online spread betting firm CMC Markets' (CMCX) announcement that it continued to attract new clients as revenue and profits fell. The stock was 6% higher at 135.5p on the news.

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