FTSE stocks were mixed early on, with the blue-chip ladder drifting lower on a mixed bag of financials, consumer goods, utilities and leisure as the mid cap firmed an ace. Standard Chartered (STAN) guided the top-100's pool of losers as it eased 1.33% to 649.75p, with Provident Financial (PFG) being sold 1.21% lower to 2991.5p. Among utilities, SSE (SSE) faltered 0.74% to 1546.5p, while in consumer goods Unilever (ULVR) tapered 0.84% to 3618.75p. Leisure was led lower by Merlin (MERL), down 0.55% to 485p. Further back were a string of commercial property outfits, their posse joined by several pharmas, telecos and tobacco specialists. Sixty blue chips rose; 40 lost traction. To the upside the story was one of house builders and miners, accompanied by several supermarkets and high-street retailers. Anglo American (AAL) added 2.16% to 831.6p, while Fresnillo (FRES) firmed 1.37% to 1696p. Berkeley Group (BKG), up 3.42% to 2782p, re-iterated its guidance for the delivery of £2.0bn of pretax profit over the three year period ending April 30, 2018. Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was down 6.91 points, or 0.1%, to 6872.51. FTSE 250 was up 37.57, or 0.21%, to 18,063.5. Wall St and Asia rose overnight. At 8.32am, WTI crude was up 1.91% to $45.29/bbl and Brent was up 0.23% to $47.74/bbl. Gold was ahead 0.44% to $1332.5/oz. BLUE-CHIP NEWS easyJet (EZJ) carried 7.5m passengers in August, up 6.4% on the year. Load factor was 94.9%, up from 94.4%. On a 12-month rolling basis, easyJet carried 72.8m passengers, up 6.8%. Load factor of 91.8% was up from 91.4%. Sports Direct (SPD),up 1.56% to 337.5p, has received the Working Practices Report from RPC, one of its legal advisers, and promptly requested another to lead a further comprehensive review of working practices. BIGGER MOVERS Mobile Streams (MOS), up 34.38% to 5.38p, said subsidiary Mobile Streams India Private Ltd has exceeded the key milestone of 50,000 active subscribers. PowerHouse Energy (PHE), up 31.25% to 1.05p, has completed its system-wide testing programme for the G3-UHt Unit in Brisbane, Australia. It said this was a significant milestone for the company. EVR Holdings (EVRH), up 31.25% to 2.1p, said subsidiary MelodyVR has entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Telefonica Germany GMBH & Co, the largest mobile communication provider in that country. InterQuest (ITQ), down 18.79% to 47p, said its H1 revenues fell 9% to £73.8m, with net fee income down 10% to £11.0m and adjusted pretax profits lower 44% to £1.4m. Interim dividend was 0.5p a share, from 1.0p a year ago. LONDON HIGHLIGHTS Vast Resources (VAST), up 9.62% to 0.29p, has signed a long-term off-take agreement with Transamine Trading SA, the Geneva-based global trader of non-ferrous metals, for all concentrates produced at Vast's Manaila Polymetallic Mine (MPM) in Romania. Ceres Power Holdings (CWR), up 9.51% to 10.13p, is to begin trials of its prototype home power systems in the UK later this year. Kodal Minerals (KOD), up 8.82% to 0.19p, has increased its exposure to the high-demand lithium market via an deal to explore and acquire a concession in southern Mali that is prospective for lithium mineralisation. Redrow (RDW), up 4.96% to 403.35p, has hiked its FY pretax profit by 23% to £250m, from £204m. Revenue was £1.38bn, from £1.15bn. FY dividend was 10p a share, from 6p. Ashmore (ASHM), down 4.06% to 340.6p, said its assets under management fell to $52.6bn in the year to end-June, down form $58.9bn. The group saw a recovery in markets and investor sentiment in the second half. MartinCo (MCO), up 3.61% to 143.5p, has acquired EweMove Sales and Lettings Ltd, a "hybrid" estate agency franchisor, for a total consideration of up to £15m. Other stocks in the news included Redx (REDX), Creston (CRE), DS Smith (SMDS), Vernalis (VER), Craneware (CRW), Horizon Discovery (HZD), SQS Software (SQS), Stadium Group (SDM), Kainos (KNOS), Tasty (TAST) and C4X Discovery (C4XD).
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