FTSE indices ticked lower in early deals as a mixed bag of pharma, retail-related and resources stocks lost ground. Wall Street rallied strongly overnight alongside rising oil prices, but Asian markets are mixed. UK investors are looking to trade balance figures due at 9.30 am. In earlt trade the FTSE 100 is down 20 points, or 0.3%, to 6845, while the midcap FTSE 250 loses 42 points, or 0.3%, to 16,652.
WTI crude is up 1.4% to $51.20/bbl, while Brent is up 1% to $57.16/bbl.
Single price discounter and running Play of the Week Poundland (PLND) piles on 31.2p (8.7%) at 389p on the proposed takeover of the rival 99p Stores chain. The £55 million cash and shares deal is conditional on the nod from the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA).
Rare drug-maker Shire (SHP) falls 1.5% to £48.79 after a committee of MPs attacked the company for using a tax avoidance scheme in Luxembourg. The committee called for the government to curb such schemes to force companies to pay more tax.
Star fund manager Neil Woodford intends to raise £200 million through floating investment trust Woodford Patient Capital Trust on the main market in April. The trust targets a 10% annual return through backing early-stage business.
Kurdistan oil producer Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) falls 8.6% to 48p as it cancels trucked oil exports from its fields in the semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq. The decision has been made amid low oil prices and continuing uncertainty over the timing of payments from the Kurdistan Regional Government.
British drinks can maker Rexam (REX) falls 1.5% to 530p after soaring from 440p to 548p yesterday on confirmation US rival Ball (NYSE:BLL) is considering acquiring it for £4.3 billion. Ball, which also has interests in aerospace, has until 5 March to say whether it will make a firm offer.
International asset managers Aberdeen (ADN), Schroders (SDR), Henderson (HGG) and Ashmore (ASHM) all get a leg-up in early trade thanks to a decent lead from Asian and US markets overnight. Gains range from 1.6% at Aberdeen to 0.45% at Henderson.
Electronics distributor Premier Farnell (PFL) is boosted by a bullish write-up from analysts at N+1 Singer. The brokerage has upped its price target on the stock from 158p to 180p despite a weak trading statement yesterday. Premier trades 1.3% higher at 160p.
Micro cap truck engine hopeful Clean Air Power (CAP:AIM) leaps 51.4% to 2.65p as its Dual Fuel product receives a certificate of conformity from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The technology adapts diesel engines to run on natural gas and has not yet been launched commercially.
DFS Furniture is the latest retailer looking to test market optimism as it eyes an IPO. The cash-generative sofas giant, claiming an average EBITDA margin of 13.2% versus 2.9% for specialist upholstery peers, announces its long-anticipated intention to float on the main market and use £105 million proceeds to pay down debt.
Sweeteners giant Tate & Lyle (TATE) sours 11.8% to 586p on yet another profit warning. Full-year profits will weigh in 'modestly below' the previously stated £230 million-to-£245 million range due to weakness in the bulk ingredients business.