Source - SMW
London equities ended higher, helped by European Central Bank not surprising the market with its interest-rate and QE calls. In London, Micro Focus International (MCRO) stole the blue-chip spotlight.

Micro Focus International (MCRO) rose 14.73% to 2243p on news it was to acquire Hewlett Packard Enterprise's software business segment in a merger with a transaction value of $8.8bn. Dixons Carphone (DC.) added 3.94% to 388.95p after a robust Q1 update.

FTSE 100 closed up 12.12 points, or 0.18%, to 6858.7. FTSE 250 rose 132.89, or 0.74% to 18,193.1. Wall St was mixed. However, the Dax, CAC 40 and Euro Stoxx 50 slipped. At 4.39pm, WTI crude was up 1.73% to $47.23/bbl, while Brent was up 1.74% to $49.72/bbl. Gold was down 0.13% to $1347.5/oz.

Notes by Deutsche Bank saw IAG (IAG), up 3.97% to 422.1p, and EasyJet (EZJ), ahead 3.68% to 1196.5p, benefit. Banks were on the front foot after the ECB, with RBS (RBS) adding 2.59% to 202.1p on pricing $2.65bn of notes. Lloyds (LLOY) and Barclays (BARC) followed.

Also firming were several big-ticket miners in the wake of Anglo American (AAL), up 2.14% to 858.18p. Several insurers gained, but others fell. House builders turned in a mid-tier performance. Persimmon (PSN) rose 1.15% to 1853p and Berkeley (BKG) firmed 1.04% to 2726p.

Oil majors advanced with crude. Shell (RDSA) added 0.98% to 1914.5p, while BP (BP.) rose 0.91% to 437.28p. Overall, blue-chip risers and fallers were roughly evenly split. Pearson (PSON) fell 7.7% to 797p, and was chased by Mediclinic (MDC) and Burberry (BRBY). Pharmas fell, too.

Stocks ex-div today included Admiral (ADM), Centamin (CEY), Antofagasta (ANTO), Greggs (GRG), Land Securities (LAND), Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) and RSA Insurance (RSA), among many others. Pearson (PSON) was a big blue-chip faller, shedding 4.26% to 826.75p. 


European Central Bank has left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at zero, with the deposit rate unmoved at -0.4%. This was broadly in line with market expectations. It added that it foresaw rates at or beneath current levels for an extended period of time.

The central bank also reaffirmed that it would continue its quantitative easing programme through to March 2017. It would continue QE beyond that date, if required. 


Strat Aero (AERO), up 82.35% to 0.78p, 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.

Zibao Metals (ZBO) fell 28.57% to 1.25p as it said turnover for the period to March 31 was HK$497m and net profit after tax of HK$609,000. It was not aware of any reason behind a recent increase in its share price.

Airea (AIEA) rose 48.84% to 32p after posted an 86% hike in FY operating profit to £2.0m, with proposed final dividend up 67% to 1.5p a share.

Tower Resources (TRP), down 47.64% to 3p, 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.

Medaphor (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.

Argo (ARGO), up 25.93% to 12.75p, 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.

Marlowe (MRL), up 13.43% to 190p, 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. 

Fenner (FENR), up 6.95% to 188.5p, expects its 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 Cyprotex (CRX), The American Carbon Registry (HYR), Monitise (MONI), 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).