After a slow start to trading on Tuesday London stocks rally into positive territory, though gains remains modest with a blend of falling financial and retail stocks being offset by gains among mining and oil issues. US and Asian markets were lower overnight. The benchmark FTSE 100 index is up around 13 points, 0.17%, at 7,077, having pulled back in yesterday's session from the all-time closing high of 7,089.77 hit on Friday.
Expansionist single price retailer Poundland (PLND), a running Shares Play of the Week, rises 3% to 342p on a solid fourth quarter trading statement. The discounter, whose mooted takeover of 99p Stores is being mulled over by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), pleases with news its annual sales have topped the £1 billion mark for the first time.
Broker upgrades and some oil price strength is lifting second tier oilies. Citigroup upgrades Tullow Oil (TLW) to 'buy' with a 433p price target - its shares rise 6% to 359.8p. Troubled African producer Afren (AFR) gains 5.5% to 3.27p and oil services firm Hunting (HTG) is up 3% to 572.5p.
Ladbrokes (LAD) slips 0.6% to 104.9p after the Labour Party's election manifesto suggests giving local councils the power to cut the number of betting shop licences in their area and limit or ban fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Ladbrokes generates 85% of group earnings before interest and tax from UK retail. William Hill (WMH), which generates 47%, is also down 0.6% to 383.5p.
Among the bigger movers, scooters maker Vmoto (VMT:AIM) shoots more than 20% higher to 2.3p as investors cheer news of likely full year earnings, before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of A$6 million to A$8 million. That compares to 2014's A$4 million.
Technology tiddler Crimson Tide (TIDE:AIM) jumps near;y 10% to 1.7pa as it unveils a number of new long-term contracts for its mpro5 system. The contracts vary in size and are in line with the company's targets for 2015.
Private hospital-operator Spire Healthcare (SPI) falls 8.9% on Cinven selling 10% of the business. The private equity firm sold around 20% of its shares for 340p each through a placing worth £136.4 million. It now owns 38.3% of the company.
Indonesian palm oil-to-Aussie beef cattle producer M.P. Evans (MPE:AIM), a running Play of the Week, perks up 4.9p to 398.88p on strong full-year results, showing a 62% rise in taxable profits to US$37.1 million. Its cattle operations benefited from improved prices, while plantation profits were buoyed by an upwards trend in fresh fruit bunch (FFB) crops on new projects, though weak palm oil prices have yet to show 'any significant improvement'.
Emerging markets-focused asset manager Ashmore (ASHM), one of the FTSE 350’s most shorted stocks, reports assets under management declined 4.1% to $61.1 billion in the first quarter of 2015. But investors are cheered by better-than-benchmark performance in its local currency funds which could help inflows down the track, driving shares up 0.6% to 309p. The read-across is not as forgiving at fellow emerging markets fund house Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN), which slips 1.9% to 497p.
Personalised medicine specialist Horizon Discovery (HZD:AIM) gains 3% to 217.5p despite pre-tax losses doubling to £6 million, partly due to acquisition costs. A positive outlook, revenues rising 79% to £11.9 million and margins improving 3% to 55% boosted the Shares' pick for 2015.