Greece debt talks once again dominate market mood on Thursday, although investors are pushing London markets into modestly positive territory. Despite a fairly quiet day for corporate news the FTSE 100 index nudges around 15 points higher to 6,846, while midcaps make further gains too, the FTSE 250 up around 0.5% at 18,119.
Royal Mail (RMG) falls 3.5% to 499.15p on news the government has sold about half of its 30% stake to institutional investors at 500p a share via an accelerated bookbuilding process. Proceeds from the sale of the placing shares would be £750 million.
Argos-to-Homebase owner Home Retail (HOME) regains 2.35% at 163.25p as investors look to the positives in a mixed first quarter trading statement. Amid weak TV, tablet and computer sales, Argos' like-for-like sales fell 3.9%, though like-for-likes were better-than-expected at Homebase, up 5.4%, and CEO John Walden guides towards a stronger second half.
Beaten-down by a string of profit warnings, luxury bag maker Mulberry (MUL:AIM) is lifted 9p higher to 914p after revealing a slump in annual profit that's less bad than feared. Guided by new CEO Thierry Andretta and with a new and splendidly-named creative director Johnny Coca joining next month, Mulberry's turnaround is beginning to bear fruit. Sales are back on a positive trajectory, up 15% like-for-like in the opening ten weeks of the new financial year.
Among the bigger movers, AIM-quoted oil firm Northern Petroleum (NOP:AIM) is up 7.7% to 9.29p as it announces production has restarted output from its acreage in north west Alberta, Canada. Well 100/16-19 will produce between 75 and 100 barrels of oil per day and the company is set to receive $30 per barrel in netback (what's left once all costs and royalty fees are substracted) assuming an West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil price of $55 per barrel.
Broadcast services company Avesco (AVS:AIM) soars 23% to 173.5p as it jumps into the black at the half year stage. The company posts interim pre-tax profit of £4.6 million, a big improvement over the previous year's £1.1 million loss. The payout is also hiked by a third to 2p a share.
Exploration tiddler Jubilant Energy (JUB:AIM) rises more than 12% to 3.38p as seals a new funding deal in India. The $1.56 million loan agreement is with Jubilant Enpro Private.
Elsewhere, the publication of an independent reserves report reveals Ophir Energy (OPHR) has proved and probable reserves and contingent resources of more than 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent. The counter ticks up 1.6% to 130.6p as chief operating officer Bill Higgs notes this resource base 'is one of the largest in the European mid-cap sector'.
European real estate investor First Property (FPO:AIM) gains 8.7% to 43.7p on pre-tax profits rising 22.4% to £8 million in the year to the end of March, the result of six new investments. The dividend increased 20.5% to 1.35p a share.
Mobile gaming company Nektan (NKTN:AIM) climbs 5.5% to 172.5p on news it has been granted a software and gaming licence in the UK, Europe's largest gaming market. Nektan had been operating under a Gibraltar continuation licence since the regulation was introduced in late 2014.