Market commentators reckon Tesco (TSCO), Marks & Spencer (MKS), WH Smith (SMWH) and Debenhams (DEB) could be among the retailers with disappointing trading updates for the Christmas period. Marks & Spencer ran large promotions on its clothing lines in the run up to Christmas which implies that sales weren't good and action was needed to get the tills ringing. Marks & Spencer retreats 0.3% to 448.7p, Debenhams falls 1.3% to 80.8p and Tesco is flat at 340.15p.


The bad weather will not have helped the retail sector's high street operations, yet it will be interesting to see the impact on internet takings. There may also be exceptions to the general retail gloom. Dixons Retail's (DXNS) chief executive Sebastian James posted on a message on Twitter on 27 December saying Boxing Day was the company's 'biggest sales day ever'. That's encouraging but the key driver for share price success will be the ability to sell goods without sacrificing too much margin. We'll discover how Dixons has fared when it issues a trading update on 16 January. Dixons, which is a running Shares Play of the Week, rises 0.2% to 48.57p.


South American oil and gas producer Amerisur Resources (AMER:AIM) – one of Shares' top picks for 2014 – rises 4.5% to 58.5p on a positive update for its Platanillo-7 well in Colombia.


It has been a long time in the making but Ariana Resources (AAU:AIM) finally gets the environmental approval needed to start its Kiziltepe precious metals mine in Turkey, one of the biggest hurdles for the project. That means joint venture partner Proccea Construction now assumes management control through the final permitting and construction phases. Ariana rises 6.4% to 1.33p.


Former Rio Tinto (RIO) chief executive Tom Albanese returns to the market for the second time in as many months to buy shares in his new employer, Indian diversified miner Vedanta Resources (VED). Albanese, who is now an adviser to the business, has invested £222,693 in stock at 885p per share. We looked at his previous investment and role in Vedanta here. The shares rise 1.7% to 917p.


Russian potash giant Uralkali (URKA) has called an emergency shareholder meeting for 24 March to appoint a new board. This follows big changes in the shareholder list and last week's chief executive change. Uralchem recently picked up a 20% stake in the business and Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov acquired 27% of the group. Uralkali is flat at $26.60.


Abu Dhabi private healthcare service provider Al Noor Hospitals (ANH) has bought the Gulf International Cancer Centre for a $21.8 million upfront fee. A further $2.7 million will be paid in advance for lease rent and additional payments up to $2.2 million subject to performance up to the end of 2014. Al Noor dips 0.4% to 896.56p.


Kodal Minerals (KOD:AIM) rises 7.1% to 0.75p on its stockmarket debut. It has phosphorous and iron exploration interests in Norway.


Faroe Petroleum (FPM:AIM) rises 0.7% to 115p after starting its Butch East exploration well in the Norwegian North Sea.


DekelOil (DKL:AIM), the 51%-owner of a palm oil project in the Ivory Coast, cultivates an 8% gain to 1p on a positive mill and logistics update. The £12 million cap says its crude palm oil extraction mill, set to become one of the largest in West Africa, is on course to become operational and generate first revenues from February.


Stevia producer PureCircle (PURE:AIM) rises 10p to 540p on positive news. The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a 'No Objection' letter for the use of the £872 million cap's 'Reb M' sweetener in food and drink across the pond. We looked at PureCircle's punchy rating and growth prospects in a Under the Bonnet article last week.



Additional reporting by James Crux

Issue Date: 30 Dec 2013