FTSE drifted lower at midday on Thursday as gains in resource stocks was offset by falls in oils.
At midday the FTSE 100 index of leading shares was 0.15% lower at 7,017 points, while the domestically oriented FTSE 250 index was 0.15% higher at 22,674 points, helped by gains in Trainline (TRN) and Meggitt (MGGT).
There is a raft of US economic data due to be released this afternoon including weekly jobless claims and April Durable Goods orders, which may set the tone for the rest of the session.
Having disposed of eight businesses and generated £7.5 billion in cash, chief executive Amanda Blanc is now focused on improving the core business, with impressive results. Aviva shares climbed 2.4% to 409.3p.
Meanwhile, the firm revealed it is looking to sell a controlling stake in its primary products business, leaving the unit as a key supplier rather than a directly controlled subsidiary. There was no suggestion proceeds from the sale would be returned to shareholders, however. The shares fell 5.5% to 769.4p on the news.
Savings and investment platform AJ Bell (AJB) reported a 21% jump in revenues for the six months to March and a 39% increase in pre-tax profits to £31.6 million thanks to a 17% increase in customer numbers over the period.
Total net inflows of £3.1 billion lifted the firm’s assets under administration to £65.2 billion, an increase of 15%, while assets under management jumped 75% to £1.4 billion. The shares gave up 0.9% to 432.2p.
Continued strong investment performance, especially in its Environmental Markets strategy, saw assets rise to £32.2 billion by the end of April. The shares dropped 3.5% to £10.67 after a blistering run from early March which has seen them gain more than 50%.
Underlying pre-tax earnings of £87.5 million were ahead of forecasts, and the firm said it expected profits for the current financial year in a range of £120 million to £130 million against a consensus of £112 million. The shares added 0.6% to 466p.
In a statement ahead of its annual general meeting, safety component maker Strix (KETL:AIM) said the strong momentum it enjoyed in the second half of its last financial year had continued into the current financial year, with the result that revenues would likely increase by 30%, slightly ahead of estimates.
As well as seeing strong demand in the kettles category, the firm has been able to push through price increases to its customers to offset cost inflation. The shares gained 0.5% to 293.4p.
Data management firm Restore (RST:AIM) posted a positive trading update for the four months to April, topped by the news it had been awarded a £10 million document services contract by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Recent acquisitions including the EDM record management and digital business are bedding down, while technology acquisitions mean revenues from that division are likely to double this year. The shares eased 0.2% to 428p after gaining almost a third from their March lows.
MSI has until 5pm on 24 June to either announce a firm offer or not under what are known as the 'put up or shut up' rules.
Disclaimer: The author owns shares in AJ Bell, owner and publisher of Shares magazine