A rally in oil prices lifted shares in Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) and BP (BP.) providing the FTSE 100 with a boost. Shell gained 1.4% to £25.34 and BP was up 1.3% at 524.2p. As the oil giants are among the largest in terms of market cap in the FTSE 100, the blue-chip index closed 0.3% higher at 7,671. Brent crude surged 1.5% to $67.55 per barrel and copper fell 1% to $3.22 per pound. OVERSEAS MARKETS In the US, all stock markets continued to rally with the Nasdaq enjoying the biggest rise of 0.6% around 4:45pm UK time. MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS British fashion retailer Next (NXT) surprised the market with a hike in its full year profit forecast on Wednesday after it beat expectations for sales in the run-up to Christmas. Investors are excited by the news as the shares rallied 6.7% to £48. Low-cost airline Ryanair (RYA) revealed a 3% increase in passenger volumes during December to 9.3 million, although it expects lower fares this year. The airline flew 3.1% higher to €15.47. Broker Liberum was optimistic about housebuilder Bellway (BWY) after hiking its target price from £33.36 to £39.30. Despite the positive outlook from Liberum, the shares were static at £36.42. Babcock International's (BAB) joint venture with UGL won a further five-year deal to provide maintenance support services for the Australian Navy. The good news failed to excite as the stock was marked 1.3% lower to 708.2p. SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS Embattled construction firm Carillion (CLLN) said the Financial Conduct Authority started an investigation into the company. According to reports, the investigation could be linked to stock market announcements from Carillion between 7 December 2016 and 10 July 2017. The stock dropped 5.4% to 17p in response. Spreadbetter Plus 500 (PLUS) soared 24.8% to £11 on expectations that it would beat full year sales and profit expectations, driven by higher customer numbers and strong trading. This helped to offset weak sentiment after a sector-wide clampdown. Staffing specialist Staffline (STAF) reported that it is anticipating full year results will be in line with expectations, but sales will likely fail to hit its £1bn target. The stock declined 3.4% to 976p.
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