Supermarkets operator Sainsbury's (SBRY) rallies early on after releasing its fourth quarter trading statement, up 2.1% to 274.2p as it reports a better-than-feared like-for-like sales decline of 1.9% amid heavy price-cutting. CEO Mike Coupe expects the grocery market to 'remain challenging for the foreseeable future' with food deflation set to persist, though the absence of further downgrades fosters some positive sentiment towards the stock.
OneSavings Bank (OSB) climbs 8.8% to 230.1p after announcing a 132% surge in pre-tax profit to £69.6 million for 2014. This is the result of taking 33% more on deposit to £4.3 billion, 29% growth in the loan book as well the benefits of cost-cutting.
Fashion clothing retailer French Connection (FCCN) falls 10.9% to 54.38p as weaker-than-expected full-year figures prompt downgrades. Despite a narrowing of annual losses, chairman and CEO Stephen Marks issues a muted outlook statement, saying high street trading 'remains challenging and we are planning accordingly'. We look at the story in more detail here.
FTSE 100 miner BHP Billiton (BLT) advances 1.3% to £14.34 on spelling out demerger plans for some of its metal assets. The board recommends that shareholders vote in favour of the corporate split which will create a new entity called South32.
Running Shares Play of the Week Gem Diamonds (GEMD) rises 1.4% to 150.13p after beating expectations with full-year earnings and the size of its maiden dividend. The Lesotho and Botswana-based miner reckons diamond prices will start to rise in the second half of this year.
Sector peer Diamondcorp (DCP:AIM) - also a running Shares Play of the Week - jumps 4.75% to 8.38p after securing $7 million of financing from Acrux Resources. The latter will get a 3% net revenue royalty on Diamondcorp's Lace mine in South Africa in exchange for the upfront cash.
Amid wider strength in the oil and gas sector as reports highlight a possible tax cut for North Sea oil producers in tomorrow's budget, Italy-focused Sound Oil (SOU:AIM) is up 6.8% to 15.75p as it secures environmental approval for its Badile exploration well. The targeted prospect is estimated to contain around 178 billion cubic feet of gas.
Payments provider Safecharge (SCH:AIM) continues its impressive progress since listing in April last year, gaining 3.9% to 268p on the back of solid full-year results. The shares are up more than 60% since the IPO.
Individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) and debt management plan provider Fairpoint (FPT:AIM) firms 5% to 125.5p as its new legal division drives full-year profit higher. Adjusted earnings per share grew 14% to 17.2p, helped by last year's £12.7 million acquisition of Simpson Millar, a consumer legal services business.
Last but not least, Marshall Motor Holdings plans to join Aim at the start of next month. A seller of new and used cars, Marshall also operates two bodyshops and one petrol station under the Shell brand.