Source - SMW
FTSE equities strayed cautiously into positive territory approaching midday, with blue-chip oil majors boosted by the firming price of crude and followed by a mixed bag of other stocks that included miners.

Ashtead (AHT), up 6.28% to 1337p, led the top-100 ladder's winners after its Q1 underlying pretax profits rose 4% to £183.6m. Underlying rental revenues were up 12% at £660.8m and EBITDA rose by 9% to £340.0m. 

Among oilies, Shell (RDSA) appreciated 1.81% to 1895.75p, while BP (BP.) gained 1.34% to 433.4p. Miners figured, too, in the wake of Randgold (RRS), up 1.64% to 7735p, and Fresnillo (FRES), ahead 1.12% to 1713p, even as the price of gold faded.

At 11.35am, WTI crude was up 0.78% to $45.18/bbl, while Brent was up 0.87% to $47.67/bbl. Gold was down 0.11% to $1352.5/oz. To noon, FTSE 100 was up 5.24 points, or 0.08%, to 6831.29. FTSE 250 was ahead 1.05, or 0.01%, to 18,004.5.

Other stocks notably ahead included WPP (WPP), up 1.31% to 1820.5p, Whitbread (WTB), rising 1.31% to 4276.5p, and Smiths Group (SMIN), rising 1.2% to 1388.5p. Several insurers, beverages outfits, high-street retailers and others were on the front foot.

To the southside, the story was mostly utilities and house builders behind Worldpay (WPG), which was down 3.21% to 284.95p after Ship Global 2 sold a total of 350m shares at 282p each, raising about £987m, reducing its stake to about 10.7%. 

Berkeley (BKG) faded 2.41% to 2716p as Halifax data showed an August slowing of the UK housing market. Barratt Developments (BDEV), down 1.84% to 497.65p, reported a record pretax profit of £682.3m, up 20.7% on the year. More house builders followed.

US rates-sensitive utilities traced Severn Trent (SVT), off 1.74% to 2405.5p, while Centrica (CNA) ebbed 1.29% to 233.45p. Also down were several commercial property stocks. Leisure, consumer goods, insurers and banks tended lower.   Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.), down 1.74% to 1326.5p, grew revenue, profit, assets under administration and active client numbers to new record levels in the year to the end of June. It added that CEO Ian Gorham would step down no later than end-September.


Origo Partners' (OPP) shares have been restored to trading and were up 672.73% to 2.12p, the company sending out a circular with a proposed share-capital restructuring. The Proposals, if approved, would also serve to settle the ongoing disputes with Brooks Macdonald.

Futura Medical (FUM), up 112.28% to 60.5p, has posted headline results from its efficacy study of MED2002, a gel to treat erectile dysfunction. Results showed MED2002 achieved its primary endpoint and successfully demonstrated efficacy, safety and speed of onset.

Bezant (BZT) has entered into an exploration agreement with Exumax S.A.S., a Colombia-based alluvial mining company. Its shares rose 56.25% to 3.12p. Zoltav (ZOL), up 31.11% to 29.5p, said directors now expected a FY pretax profit materially ahead of market expectations. 


UK house prices continued to slow in August, Halifax's house price index showed. It said the cost of buying a home was 6.9% more expensive in August than it was a year earlier. The average house price was £213,930. Property prices fell 0.2% in August, from July.

UK industrial production rose 0.1% in July, having been flat in June, data showed. Manufacturing production fell 0.9% in July, following a 0.2% slip in June. The data follows UK's non-binding referendum in June to quit the EU.

German industrial production fell 1.5% in July, official data showed. Activity was expected to rebound in August, however.


Tethyan Resources (TETH), down 24% to 2.38p, has issued drilling results from the six drill holes on the polymetallic Cadinje project in Western Serbia. Overall the drilling went well and over 90 % recoveries were achieved with the use of Triple Tube.

Windar Photonics (WPHO) has confirmed new orders for Windar's 4-beam LiDAR device, the WindVISION, from international wind turbine OEMs. Its shares rose 16.94% to 72.5p.

Starcom (STAR), down 15.63% to 3.38p, has narrowed its H1 pretax loss to $0.56m, from a year-ago loss of $0.69m. Revenue was $2.5m, from $2.6m.

CentralNic (CNIC), down 14.13% to 39.5p, has reported an adjusted pretax profits of £948,000 for H1, up 12% on last time. 

Shanta Gold (SHG), up 12.16% to 10.38p, has unveiled an upgraded JORC Code compliant (2012) resource estimate at the Ilunga satellite deposit at the New Luika Gold Mine (NLGM) located in the Lupa Goldfields, southwest Tanzania.

Trakm8 (TRAK), down 10.33% to 204p, said trading in the first five months of the current financial year, which began April 1, has started satisfactorily and is consistent with its expectations for the year as a whole. 

Sports Direct International (SPD), down 10.01% to 314.6p, said it sees underlying FY 2017 EBITDA coming in at about £300m, and separately that it had rebuffed a offer to step down by its chairman, Keith Hellawell.

Other stocks in the news included Savannah Resources (SAV), CLS (CLI), Hydrogen (HYDG), EU Supply (EUSP), Ultra Electronics (ULE), Marlowe (MRL), Aminex (AEX), Green & Smart (GSH), Revolymer (REVO), Empiric Student (ESP), RedT Energy (REDT), Regency Mines (RGM), Amphion (AMP) and Joules (JOUL).