UK stocks edge higher on Wednesday, recovering some of the losses after the steep sell-off sent the FTSE 100 to its lowest levels in more than a month. London’s benchmark index is up 0.3% at 6,550 in early trading, after closing at 6,529.47 on Tuesday.
US-focused equipment rental outfit Ashtead (AHT) heads the Footsie leader board, jumping 6% to £11.46, as it posts strong second quarter results and says full-year results are 'ahead of our previous expectations.' Rental revenue for the six months to end October jumps 24% to £895.6 million, while £588 million worth of new rental equipment was bought in the period.
Natural gas giant BG (BG.) stays flat at 898.8p despite saying it is set to raise $5 billion from the sale of a gas pipeline in Australia which is planned to go towards reducing debt and future growth investments.
Banking group Standard Chartered (STAN) nudges modestly lower to 935p as news breaks that the Far East-based banking group will face a further three years of scrutiny from US authorities after it was fined over £400 million in 2012 for breaching American sanctions on Iran.
Serco (SRP) rallies on news it has renewed the lucrative Australian government immigration contract which has contributed to most of its profit growth over the last five years. Shares open 5.4% higher at 173p.
Paraguay focused oil exploration play President Energy (PPC:AIM) is in demand as it confirms 'very encouraging' results from its Lapacho well ahead of imminent flow testing. The shares are up 8.9% to 28.3p with the upcoming tests – the results of which are expected before the end of the year – helping to determine if the group has made a commercial discovery.
Plus-size retailer N Brown (BWNG) rebounds 4.3% to 341.05p on a reassuring third quarter update. Sales have picked up since September's profits warning-inducing (9 Oct) mild weather, with the retailer returning to growth in October and November, helped by more robust sales of winter apparel.
Personal and household goods giant PZ Cussons (PZC) perks up 0.1p to 315.9p on a solid half-year trading statement. The Imperial Leather soap-to-St Tropez self-tan maker managed to generate flat operating profits before unhelpful currency moves, a decent achievement given headwinds in key market Nigeria.
Ireland and Morocco based oil explorer Fastnet Oil & Gas (FAST:AIM) gains 4.7% to 3.09p as it announces current director Carol Law will replace Paul Griffiths as chief executive officer and says it remains committed to developing an oil and gas business. The company does not rule out returning capital to shareholders in the future and has $18 million on its balance sheet.
Trinidad oil producer Range Resources (RRL:AIM) recovers from an early 21% crash, edging 3.5% higher at 0.59p, despite its listing in Australia being suspended pending an announcement to market regarding material funding and operational developments.
Car dealer enterprise software supplier Incadea (INCA:AIM) stays roughly flat at 135p despite the company confirming takeover talks with US peer Dealertrack. News of negotiations broke last week.
Genetic screening test-maker Premaitha Health (NIPT:AIM) falls 4.8% to 19.5p as it runs up a £4 million loss in the seven months to October. The development company’s main test is expected to be launched within months if it wins regulatory approval.