Friday sees the FTSE 100 firm 16.8 points to 6546.5 as further reassuring economic data from China improves the mood of investors, with industrial output rising by a better-than-expected 9.7% in July and retail sales surging 13.2% ahead. On a quiet day for news, bookmaker William Hill (WMH) cheapens 2p to 444.6p after agreeing to buy Australian online betting firm Tom Waterhouse. William Hill will pay an upfront £20 million in cash, assume £3 million of liabilities and potentially shell out another £41 million in cash if earn-out targets are hit to get its hands on one of Australia's fastest growing web-based betting firms. Forming part of the £3.9 billion cap's international expansion strategy, the takeover of privately-owned Tom Waterhouse builds on the £459 million acquisition of Sportingbet's Australian business in March 2013 as it develops Australia as its 'second home'. Read our news analysis on William Hill from March here.
Shares in Tesco (TSCO) tick up 3.85p to 372.95p as the global grocery behemoth confirms talks are underway regarding a potential joint venture in the world's second-biggest economy. In a short and sweet statement, the £29.7 billion cap flags exclusive discussions with Hong Kong-listed China Resources Enterprise (291:HK), 'CRE', to combine their Chinese operations and form a retail giant with sales of £10 billion. Read our analysis here.
With investors chasing a number of miners higher, Randgold Resources (RRS) shines 3.8% brighter at £45.87 on hopes brighter Chinese economic data could boost demand.
Bus and train operator FirstGroup (FGP), which recently shored up its balance sheet with a £615 million rights issue, sheds 3% to 108.2p as a recent bid-chat-driven run comes to an end. Whispers doing the rounds suggest a private equity player is mulling over a possible cash bid worth between 160p and 170p per share.
Balfour Beatty (BBY) softens 0.7% to 242.2p despite the heavy construction specialist announcing the sale of its UK facilities management business to GDF Suez Energy Services for £190 million in cash. It is understood that the proceeds of the transaction will be used to reduce the £1.68 billion cap's borrowings as it ups its focus on its core strength of infrastructure, although downgrades to 2013 and 2014 forecasts ensue to reflect the missed profits from the business. Read our Shares Play of the Week article here.
Energy supply business Flow Group (FLOW:AIM) makes modest headway, up 0.12p to 11.75p, on better-than-expected demand. Services were launched at the start of this year with 36,000 consumers hoped for at this stage, yet 53,000 have signed on the dotted line for gas and electric. Shares spelled out the potential of the old Energetix business in May.
Compound wafers maker IQE (IQE:AIM) continues to find friends in the market, the shares adding another 5% to 26.75p, in the wake of its concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) kit progress and analysts at Canaccord reaffirming their 65p target price.
Biotech research and development concern Silence Therapeutics (SLN:AIM) sheds 5.1% to 201p despite news it has initiated phase two clinical trials of its pancreatic cancer treatment, Atu027-I-02. Since the treatment has already passed its safety tests and management plans to invest in opening new centres in Germany to help with tests, the update fails to wow the market.