FTSE indices closed marginally higher, having inched away from a negative start amid a market whose attentions are firmly fixed on Thursday's European Central Bank interest-rate call. At the close, FTSE 100 was up 20.53 points, or 0.3%, to 6846.58, while FTSE 250 was ahead 56.8, or 0.32%, to 18,060.2. Investors are pondering whether the ECB will act as early as tomorrow to extend its asset-buying programme beyond March 2017, or not. In London, resources mostly rose. Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) added 1.83% to 1896p, while BP (BP.) firmed 1.33% to 433.35p. Several miners traced Randgold (RRS), up 1.64% to 7735p. At 4.39pm, WTI crude was up 0.54% to $45.07/bbl, while Brent was up 0.42% to $47.46/bbl. Gold was down 0.38% to $1348.9/oz. Thereafter came a slew of financials, Aviva (AV.) adding 1.66% to 441.9p, Experian (EXPN) firming 1.25% to 1543p and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) advancing 0.82% to 197p. Ashtead (AHT) led the pack as it gained 3.34% to 1300p after its Q1 underlying pretax profits rose 4% to £183.6m. Blue chip risers and fallers were roughly evenly split, with house builders piloting the losers' list after UK housing data disappointed. Berkeley (BKG) faded 3.04% to 2698.5p Barratt Developments (BDEV), down 2.92% to 492.2p, reported a record pretax profit of £682.3m, up 20.7% on the year. More house builders followed. Worldpay (WPG) faltered 2.39% to 287.35p after Ship Global 2 sold a total of 350m shares at 282p each, raising about £987m, reducing its stake to about 10.7%. BIGGER MOVERS Origo Partners' (OPP) shares have been restored to trading and were up 809.09% to 2.5p, 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 117.54% to 62p, 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 62.5% to 3.25p. 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. ECONOMIC NEWS Stateside, the number of job openings increased to 5.9m on the last business day of July, US Bureau of Labor Statistics said. 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. LONDON HIGHLIGHTS Clontarf (CLON), up 31.25% to 0.53p, said talks were underway with Ghanaian in relation to possible award of acreage in respect of its prior application on deep-water Tano Basin acreage as well as replacement acreage for its signed Petroleum Agreement on Tano 2A Block. Zoltav (ZOL), up 17.78% to 26.5p, said directors now expected a FY pretax profit materially ahead of market expectations. Windar Photonics (WPHO) confirmed new orders for Windar's 4-beam LiDAR device, the WindVISION, from international wind turbine OEMs. It rose 16.94% to 72.5p. Starcom (STAR), down 12.5% to 3.5p, 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 9.46% to 10.13p, 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 6.59% to 212.5p, 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 7.12% to 324.7p, 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).
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