The FTSE 100 is enjoying a strong start to the new week, rising 50 points to 6,633. Larry Summers' withdrawal from the running to replace Ben Barnanke as chairman of the US Federal Reserve is good news for investors who don't want the US monetary stimulus programme to end. Gold is down nearly another 1% to $1,316 per ounce, leaving all the gold mining equities in the doldrums.
UK and Norway oil firm Bridge Energy (BRDG:AIM) gushes up 27% to 155p as it attracts a recommended cash offer of 162p a share. The prospective deal values Bridge at £103 million. We looked at the investment proposition earlier this month in our cover article on the junior oil sector.
High-tech computer training systems supplier SimiGon (SIM:AIM) falls 4% to 36.5p in spite of forecast-beating revenues and all-round excellent half-year figures. We look at the situation in more detail here.
A move into net profit of $14.4 million versus a $0.8 million loss a year ago grabs the market's attention as Optimal Payments (OPAY:AIM) reports half-year results that send its share price up 7.4% to 246.25p. It now plans to invest in the business to chase opportunities in multiple areas including US online gambling and mobile payment technologies. The shares are up 350% since we highlighted the stock as a Play of the Week in December 2011.
The resignation of Russell Lamming as chief executive officer of Goldplat (GDP:AIM) shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, given that his short tenure was dogged by falling gold prices and the closure of its only producing mine. His decision to move away from mining exploration is the correct one, in our opinion. Lamming inherited a business that failed to concentrate on what it does best – metal recycling/processing – but he's shifted the focus back to the company's roots. He should not be blamed for setbacks that have affected the group's financial results as that's ultimately down to the falling gold price disrupting market dynamics. The official reason behind the change of director is that the company wants someone permanently based in South Africa – Lamming lives in the UK. The shares fall 1.5% to 8.5p.
We've heard it so many times over the years that it is hard to get excited about talk that EMED Mining (EMED:AIM) is about to get permits to restart a large copper mine in Spain. The market likes a new announcement, nonetheless, sending its share price up 5.9% to 6.88p. A 30-day public consultation on EMED's environmental plan began on 14 September. It says the government has 're-affirmed the feasibility' of issuing two key permits around the end of 2013. Feasibility is not quite as strong a word as intention, is it?
Noricum Gold (NMG:AIM) rises 14.4% to 1.23p after reporting high-grade gold drilling results from its Rotgulden project in Austria.
A narrowed first half pre-tax loss of £2.4 million (2012: £3.8 million) helps lift specialist engineer Corac (CRA:AIM) 2% to 12.9p. The group says full year performance will be in line with expectations but a 19% year-on-year drop in the order book to £13.2 million is a potential concern.
North Sea oil explorer Trap Oil (TRAP:AIM) falls 6.5% to 10.8p on continuing problems with the Athena field - where a pump failure is reducing gross output by 1,400 barrels of oil per day.
Investors are not getting carried away with cloud services specialist Outsourcery's (OUT:AIM) first move beyond the telco space. The shares edge up just 2p to 118.5p on its reseller partnership with US software supplier Ingram Micro (IM:NYSE), although analyst at Investec reckon the shares could be worth 176p on a 12-month view.
Specialist talent management software microcap NetDimensions (NETD:AIM) sees half-year revenue rise 10% alongside the expected hit on the bottom line as it ploughs investment into future growth. Operating costs soar from $5.5 million to nearly $9 million, leaving a $3.2 million operating loss. It's all part of a brave three-year plan to land grab market share, and Shares has previously flagged that this could cause downward share price pressure in the meantime, the stock off 5.6% to 58.5p.
Medical technology investor NetScientific (NSCI: AIM) raises £30 million from its Aim debut to develop its portfolio companies. The move values the Cambridge-based concern at £57.5 million as its shares open at 160p each.
Fashion brand business French Connection (FCCN) sheds 2.3% to 32.25p as modestly-improved half-year figures fail to inspire the market. For the six months to end-July, taxable losses were pared to £6.1 million (2012: £6.3 million) on sales down 6.4% to £89.9 million. Still in the early stages of its turnaround, French Connection finished the half with £22.3 million cash, representing 70% of its current £31.65 million market value.
High purity stevia producer PureCircle (PURE:AIM) continues its good run, sweetening up another 1p to 346p on well received finals to 30 June. With momentum in the stevia sweetener market improving, PureCircle, whose customers include both Coca-Cola (KO:NYSE) and PepsiCo (PEP:NYSE), grew sales 57% to $71 million and reduced losses dramatically from $23.3 million to $9.5 million. Read our in-depth analysis of the company's prospects from July here.