UK investors stay on the sidelines to a large degree in early trade on Friday ahead of what some analysts believe could be a make-or-break jobs report for market expectations of a rate hike by the US central bank in December. The FTSE 100 index is virtually flat at 6,365, although midcaps manage modest gains, as do smaller companies.
In corporate news, European white goods retailer Darty (DRTY) sparks up 12.1% to 111.5p as it agrees to the key terms of an improved takeover offer from Groupe Fnac (FNAC:PA). Darty's board has indicated it will recommend a takeover at 116p a share, a 47% premium to the undisturbed share price and a bid valuing Darty at £615 million.
[caption id="attachment_60873" align="alignnone" width="475"] People leave a books and music retailer Fnac store in Paris, France, in this picture taken October 8, 2012. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen/Files[/caption]
A tailings dam that holds waste water from mining operations has burst at BHP Billiton’s (BLT) and Vale’s (VALE:NYSE) jointly-owned Samancor iron ore project in Brazil. Media reports suggest a mudslide has devastated a local village. BHP has yet to quantify the full extent of the crisis, but investors are clearly concerned as its share price falls 4.2% to 990.65p.
Pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca (AZN) has agreed to buy California-based ZS Pharma for $2.7 billion (£1.8 billion) in cash. The Anglo-Swedish drug giant has agreed to pay $90 a share for ZS, which develops treatments for hyperkalaemia, a serious condition typically associated with chronic kidney diseases and chronic heart failure.
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) reverses heavy early losses as the Evening Standard reports the interdealer broker is in takeover talks with larger rival ICAP (IAP). Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper claims a deal would create £70 million in initial cost savings. Earlier, Tullett traded sharply lower following a trading update which flagged lower profit margins and declining trading volume. Shares in Tullett are now flat at 329p and ICAP trades 0.6% at 446p.
PME African Infrastructure Opportunities (PMEA:AIM) jumps 21.7% to 0.14p after saying it would buy back half of its entire issued share capital via a tender offer. The fund is selling assets with a view to winding up.
US focused E&P Pantheon Resources (PANR:AIM) gains 12.3% to 82p as it reveals a second positive result from its drilling in neighbouring Tyler and Polk Counties in Texas. The VOS#1 well has made an unexpected discovery outside of the main targeted Eagle Ford and Austin Chalk reservoirs.
Colombian oil producer Amerisur Resources (AMER:AIM) is under pressure – down 8.3% to 25.9p – as its usual sure touch with the drill-bit disappoints it, the company announcing a disappointing result from its Loto-2 well.
Broadband and calls supplier TalkTalk (TALK) reveals more detail over its recent hacking attack, saying on Friday that the cyber swoop it suffered in October was a lot smaller than it originally suspected. The telecommunications company believes just 4% of its four million-plus customers have had sensitive or personal data put at risk. The shares rally 4% to 230p, although the stock remains massively down on 408.8p June highs.
Satellite's operator Inmarsat’s (ISAT) third quarter revenues have been given a large boost thanks to its new aviation division. The FTSE 100 company posted its results for the three months to 30 September on Friday, showing total revenue for the quarter up 7.5% on 2014, driven by an $11.9 million (£7.8 million) increase in aviation revenues.
Kitchens designer and retailer John Lewis of Hungerford (JLH:AIM) edges 2.2% higher to 1.15p. The micro cap's pre-close trading update flags 5% growth in annual sales to £7.8 million thanks to a pick-up in sales in the fourth quarter; the current trading statement highlights a significant increase in the order book for 'deliveries in Q2 and beyond'.