UK stocks decline in early trade on Friday as investors continue to digest the Bank of England’s policy meeting minutes and looked ahead to the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates next week. The BoE on Thursday voted 8-1 to keep interest rates and the asset purchase programme unchanged, pointing to weak inflation. The consumer price index rose 0.1% in July, well below the BoE’s target of 2%.
After a positive showing on Wall Street overnight, mixed Asian markets this morning and a mildly lower Europe, the FTSE 100 index trudges 25 points lower, a rough 0.4% decline, to 6,130, although smaller companies do better, the FTSE Small Cap index close on 10 points to the good (0.2%) at 4,588.
In a relatively quiet end of the week for corporate news, miners put in a solid showing with several filling the top spots on today's Footsie leader board, headed by Rio Tinto (RIO), up 2.2% at £24.165, while satellites group Inmarsat (ISAT) heads Friday's loser board, down 2% at £10.26.
Among the bigger movers, deal-hungry, design-led carpets manufacturer Victoria (VCP:AIM) weaves more than 8% higher to £13.43 as its latest acquisition triggers further earnings upgrades. The £65 million Interfloor acquisition will be 'immediately and materially earnings enhancing' and brings the Tredaire and Duralay underlay brands into group ownership. Click here for more on Victoria's consolidation quest under maverick chairman Geoff Wilding.
Nuclear de-commissioning specialist Redhall (RHL:AIM) collapses on news that it plans to completely restructure its balance sheet, which means raising substantial new funding. The company is aiming to talk investors into supporting a £5.8 million cash call via a share placing of 115.3 million new stock at 5p each, a massive 50%-plus discount to Thursday's 10.3p close. Unsurprisingly, the stocks crashes 35% to 6.5p.
Better news comes in the resources space where Botswana Diamonds (BOD:AIM) expects new drill targets to be identified both in Orapa and Gope. That news warms investor cockles, prompting the share price to rally 12.7% to 0.93p.
Another mining minnow, Great Western Mining (GWMO:AIM), jumps more than 8% to 0.65p as it spells out that follow-up work has confirmed that its M5 site has the potential to be a very large Carlin-style gold prospect. Or so the company, and investors, hope.
Media minnow Mirada (MIRA:AIM) is also a strong runner on Friday, up 11% to 11.25p, as it confirms the commercial launch of a new user interface at Moviestar+ in Spain, based on the company's Inspire platform.
Elsewhere, European televisions-to-washing machines seller Darty (DRTY), a running Shares Play of the Week, sparks up another 3.3% to 79p as yesterday's positive first quarter update continues to generate interest in the stock.
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon (JDW) rises 1.7% to 732p despite reporting a 2% drop in pre-tax profit to £77.8 million in the year to 26 July, £0.5 million below the consensus forecast. Like-for-like sales are up by 3.3% but the EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) margin is 130 basis points lower. The group has had a soft start to the first quarter of 2016 with like-for-like growth of just 1.4% compared with 3.6% in the first quarter of 2015.