FTSE indices were higher in early deals as traders look to today's European Central Bank's stance on interest rates and QE. Blue-chip house builders led the pack, with Micro Focus (MCRO) and Dixons Carphone (DC.) up on news. Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was up 33.4 points, or 0.49%, to 6879.98, while FTSE 250 was ahead 52.22, or 0.29% to 18,112.5, a level last seen in May 2015. At 8.45am, WTI crude was up 1.8% to $46.32, while Brent was up 1.44% to $48.67/bbl. Gold was up 0.19% to $1351.7/oz. Micro Focus International (MCRO), up 21.56% to 2376.5p, is to acquire Hewlett Packard Enterprise's software business segment (HPE Software) in a merger that carries a transaction value of $8.8bn. Dixons Carphone (DC.), up 3.11% to 385.85p, reported strong growth and market share gains Q1. Revenue rose 9% on the year, and was up 4% on a like-for-like basis. It issued pleasing commentary on UK & Ireland, Nordics and southern Europe. Meantime, house builders were guided up by Berkeley (BKG), which rose 2.04% to 2753p, and Barratt Developments (BDEV), ahead 1.74% to 500.75p. More followed. Several miners followed Anglo American (AAL), up 1.31% to 851.2p, as oilies traced Shell (RDSA), up 0.67% to 1908.75p. Also firming were financials after Provident Financial (PFG), rising 1.66% to 3007p, and HSBC (HSBA), ahead 1.08% to 573.45p. Tobacco stocks wheezed higher, as did a number of investment specialists, commercial property, supermarkets and utilities. Others in these sectors ebbed. Pearson (PSON) was a big blue-chip faller, shedding 4.57% to 824p. Stocks ex-dividend included Admiral (ADM), Centamin (CEY), Antofagasta (ANTO), Greggs (GRG), Land Securities (LAND), Poundland (PLND), Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) and RSA Insurance (RSA), among many others. National Grid (NG.), up 0.47% to 1072p, and the New York Public Service Commission have filed a Joint Proposal for a three-year rate plan settlement for the KeySpan Energy Delivery New York (KEDNY) and KeySpan Energy Delivery Long Island (KEDLI) gas distribution utilities. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), up 0.46% to 197.9p, has completed the pricing of its $2.65bn aggregate principal amount of 3.875% Senior Notes due 2023. BIGGER MOVERS Strat Aero (AERO), up 64.71% to 0.7p, said subsidiary Geocurve has been won a further contract to provide aerial inspection and level survey services for the Environment Agency's Thames Estuary Asset Management 2100 programme. Tower Resources (TRP), down 50% to 2.75p, intends to raise gross proceeds of about £1.03m via a non-brokered subscription for about 45.9m new shares at a placing price of 2.25p per share. It also planned an open offer for UK shareholders to raise £0.56m at 2.25p each. Airea (AIEA) rose 25.58% to 27p after posted an 86% hike in FY operating profit to £2.0m, with proposed final dividend up 67% to 1.5p a share. Medaphor Group (MED) fell 27.06% to 31p as it said the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology had served notice to terminate its contract. It separately announced the launch of ScanExaminer, a new ultrasound skills examination simulator. LONDON HIGHLIGHTS Marlowe (MRL), up 11.94% to 187.5p, has acquired H2O Chemicals Ltd for a total enterprise value of £2.8m. It also announced a placing and subscription with certain institutional investors and Marlowe's existing shareholders to raise approximately £10m. The American Carbon Registry (HYR), up 7.41% to 3.63p, has approved Hydrodec's patented technology as a carbon offset project in the voluntary carbon offset market. Cyprotex (CRX), up 5.9% to 152.5p, has launched eight additional drug transporter assays. Drug transporters are present in multiple cells and tissues within the body. Argo (ARGO), up 4.94% to 10.63p, said its H1 revenues rose to $4.0m, up from $3.1m a year ago. It made a pretax profit of $4.9m, compared with a loss of $4.2m. Monitise (MONI), up 3.17% to 2.6p, has widened its FY pretax loss to £243.1m, from £227.4m. Revenue was £67.6m, from £89.7m. It said the results confirmed a substantial improvement in H2 operating figures. Fenner (FENR), up 2.91% to 181.38p, expects i8ts full-year results to be at the top end of forecasts. Trading was as expected during the last two months of its financial year ended 31 August. Other stocks in the news included Charles Stanley (CAY), LiDCO (LID), Sirius Real Estate (SRE), Avation (AVAP), MXC Capital (MXCP), Motif Bio (MTFB), Amiad Water (AFS), Fyffes (FFY), Genus (GNS), Zoopla (ZPLA), Ergomed (ERGO), Victoria Oil & Gas (VOG) and Deltex Medical (DEMG).