London shares are again on the up in early trade Friday, but only just, as investors hold on to their seats ahead of this weekend's crucial Greece referendum on European bailout proposals. The benchmark FTSE 100 index nudges 10 points, or about 0.15%, at 6,620, with Vodafone (VOD) and Standard Chartered (STAN) heading the Footsie leader board early on, posting 1.8% and 2% increases respectively. Going the other way, publishing and education giant Pearson leads the loser board, easing off by 1.4% to £12.32.
Shares' bearish stance on BHP Billiton (BLT) spin-off South32 (S32) has proved correct with the share price continuing to fall since joining the market in May. Down a further 1.6% to 86.13p today, the metals-to-coal miner is suffering from a decline in commodity prices and big investors dump the stock.
Among the bigger movers, Central Rand Gold (CRND:AIM) extends gains from earlier in the week with a further 17% rise to 18.13p. Operational issues are being resolved and it remains in takeover talks.
Online payments specialist Optimal Payments (OPAY:AIM) adds 10.8% to 243p as it reiterates plans to move to a premium listing and a potential spot in the FTSE 250, the UK's mid cap index. Optimal, valued at £1.1 billion, will look to make the move on receiving regulatory clearance for its proposed €1.1 billion (£782 million) acquisition of money transfer service Skrill. Management says the business is trading in line with expectations in a trading update.
Distil (DIS:AIM), owner of premium drinks brands including Blackwoods Gin and Vodka and RedLeg Spiced Rum, fizzes 12.5% higher to 0.9p on a positive annual general meeting (AGM) update. Chairman Don Goulding says the new financial year has started well with volumes and revenues 'strongly ahead of last year' as key brands gain traction at home and overseas. Shares highlighted Distil's speculative attractions here last month.
Media agency minnow Phorm (PHRM:AIM) shoots 23% up to 2.63p as it unveils a huge jump in average daily unique user numbers in Russia.
Also positive is Malaysian data centres firm CSF (CSFG:AIM) as investors welcome better-than-expected full year figures, despite remaining RM32 million in the pre-tax red. The shares rally 15% to 2p, still a far cry from the 55p IPO price of 2010.
Business IT and communications software platform provider Outsourcery (OUT:AIM), founded and run by Dragon's Den'er Piers Linney, finally hands shareholders some good news as it strikes a £4 million term loan deal with Vodafone. While only £2.3 million will be available for growth fundig, after repaying previous facilities, investors cling on to the hopes that the businesses finances are shored up, for now. The shares jump 12.5% to 27p.
But inside and outside geo-location technology business Ubisense (UBI:AIM) plunges again on yet another revenue warning. The shares slump more than 10% to 99p as hoped-for contracts face delays, an issue that has hounded the company, and haunted shareholders, for most of its AIM-listed life since floating in June 2011 at 180p.
Elsewhere, investors have been left disappointed as the mooted merger of talk techies Eckoh (ECK:AIM) and Netcall (NET:AIM) fail, with the former walking away from its proposed £88 million offer for its rival after a major Netcall shareholder's blocking tactics. However, this might only be a bump in the road, don't be surprised if the deal is revived down the line, as Shares explains in today's exclusive web story.
Online property portal Zoopla (ZPLA) slumps 3.6% to 255p after Investec initiates on the stock at sell with a 239p price target.
Central London-focused residential property investor K&C REIT (KCR:AIM) rises 1.3% to 10.13p after raising £3.6 million from joining AIM. The funds have been spent on Silcott Properties, which owns a property in Chelsea and three smaller assets. The £4.4 million cap targets building a £500 million portfolio.