London equities opened on the front foot with both the blue chip and mid cap indices making moderate gains as investors look to tonight's US Federal Reserve interest-rate call. Financials and house builders were firming. Among high-street lenders, Barclays (BARC), up 2.9% to 171.28p, and Lloyds (LLOY), ahead 2.07% to 57.61p, guided the pack. They were followed by insurers Aviva (AV.), up 2.03% to 446.3p, and Legal & General (LGEN), ahead 1.93% to 218.85p. In real estate, house builders sortied north after Barratt (BDEV), rising 1.85% to 487.55p and Taylor Wimpey (TW.), advancing 1.19% to 153.5p. In commercial property, Hammerson (HMSO) rose 0.96% to 576p and Land Securities (LAND) added 0.72% to 1044.5p. Also up were several miners, among them BHP Billiton (BLT), up 0.99% to 1042.75p, after providing an AGM update, unveiling board changes, and reporting on payments to governments. Randgold (RRS) and Fresnillo (FRES) gained alongside gold's advance. Risers outnumbered fallers 74 to 26, with 24 of the gainers up by 1% or more. FTSE 100 added 35.56 points, or 0.52%, to 6866.35 and FTSE 250 rose 92.73, or 0.52%, to 17,992.9. At 8.35am, WTI crude was up 0.325 to $43.44/bbl and Brent was up 1.66% to $46.64/bbl. Gold was 0.42% firmer to $1323.7/oz. Among the mixed-bag of stocks falling were Relx (REL),down 0.78% to 1456.5p, Shire (SHP), lower 0.6% to 5283p and Imperial Brands (IMB), off 0.54% to 3985.25p. Consumer goods was on the back foot, as were several but not all leisure stocks. Diageo (DGE), down 0.72% to 2165.25p, said its 2017 fiscal year has started well. Its top-line momentum and progress in implementing productivity changes, gave the outfit continued confidence in achieving its objective of mid-single digit top-line growth, and over three years ending fiscal 19 delivering 100bps of organic operating margin improvement. BIGGER MOVERS SWP Group (SWP), up 45.83% to 8.75p, has recommended a cash offer from Friars 716 Ltd. The offer, at a premium 9p a share in cash, valued SWP at about £18.3m. Majestic Wine (WINE), down 30.3% to 302.13p, has forecast EBIT below expectations in 2017, but remains on track to hit three-year plan of £500m in sales by 2019. Its directors believed current consensus FY pretax profit to be £16.1m. Bonmarche (BON), down 24.35% to 87p, estimated that store like-for-like sales for Q2 would be down by about 8.0%, and the LFL sales for H1 would also be down by around 8.0%. LONDON HIGHLIGHTS Physiomics (PYC), down 15.38% to 0.03p, has completed a placing, conditional only on Admission, to raise £555,000 from the issue of 2.22bn shares at 0.025p each. 32Red (TTR), up 8.3% to 143.5p, has recorded a bumper surge in its H1 pretax profit to £2.5m, from £0.1m. Total net gaming revenue was £30.4m, from £18.6m, with the biggest gain in 'other products'. Interim dividend was 1.3p a share, from 1.1p. Eagle Eye (EYE), up 7% to 107p, said group FY revenue rose 33% to £6.5m, with gross profit of £5.1m, representing a gross margin of 79%, from £3.5m and 71% a year earlier. Xtract Resources (XTR), down 5.88% to 0.04p, has drawn down £750,000 from its existing SEDA with YA Global Master (YAGM). Powerhouse Energy (PHE), up 6.06% to 0.88p, has more than doubled its H1 pretax loss to $1.3m, from a loss of $0.5m. Revenue was nil. Administrative expenses were materially higher at $0.9m, from $0.2m. Styles & Wood (STY), up 5.13% to 430p, has acquired Keysource Ltd for an initial consideration of about £2.0m to be satisfied in cash and shares. It expected additional payments to total £2.5m, covered by cash inherited in Keysource. Sinclair Pharma (SPH), up 4.19% to 28.13p, has more than halved its H1 pretax loss to £3.4m, from a loss of £7.2m. Revenue was marginally lower at £17.25m, from £17.29m. ServicePower (SVR) , up 4.76% to 2.75p, said its H1 pretax loss has deepened to £0.7m, from a loss of £0.6m. Total revenue was £6.4m, from £6.9m. eg solutions (EGS), down 4.63% to 51.5p, has posted an H1 pretax loss of £1.5m, up from £328,000 last time. hVIVO (HVO), down 4.02% to 176.13p, has lowered FY revenue expectations due to the accounting treatment of its JV investment in Imutex Ltd. Pan African Resources (PAF), up 3.41% to 19.13p, said its FY after-tax profit in rand terms rose 160.2% to ZAR547.0m, from ZAR210.2m. In sterling terms, after-profit rose 117.9% to £25.5m, from £11.7m. It also issued its 2016 mineral resource and reserve report. Other stocks in the news included Interserve (IRV), Brooks Macdonald (BRK), Velocys (VLS), Midatech Pharma (MTPH), Gateley (GTLY), Centaur Media (CAU), DX (DX.), NAHL (NAH), Saga (SAGA), JKX Oil & Gas (JKX), Dillistone (DSG) and CyanConnode (CYAN).
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