London markets make sturdy gains ahead of the Bank of England's inflation report, due at 10.30am, with mining and financial stocks making the early running. In early trade on Thursday the FTSE 100 is up around 30 points, or 0.48%, at 6,851, while midcaps make even heftier gains. The FTSE 250 index is roughly 90 points higher at 16,723. Oil prices also make modest ground with WTI crude up 2% to $49.89/bbl, but still off the key $50 mark. Brent crude is also up, nudging 1% to $55.4/bbl.
FTSE 100 miner Rio Tinto (RIO) moves up 3.3% to £30.68 on solid full-year results and news of a $2 billion share buyback which had been hotly anticipated by investors – although some will be disappointed there's no special dividend which was also expected.
Financials were studded throughout the blue-chip risers' ladder. ICAP (IAP) rises 1.3% to 475.6p, with Investec (INVP), under-the- microscope HSBC (HSBA), and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) following. Insurers and supermarkets generally manage limp gains.
In the headlines telco BT (BT.A) nudges 0.5% lower to 457.5p as it unveils details of its plans to raise £1 billion through an underwritten institutional placing to part-fund its £12.5 billion EE mobile network acquisition.
Property website Zoopla (ZPLA) falls 2% to 182.35p despite says it is trading in line with management expectations. Investors note the 11% advertising revenue impact since the impact of rival portal Agents' Mutual.
Leading the Footsie fallers is water supplier United Utilities (UU.), albeit off just 1.% to 974p, although under pressure energy suppliers Centrica (CNA), which owns British Gas, and SSE (SSE) trudge through modest negative territory.
Carbon and ceramic products manufacturer Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) adds 2% to 308p on a 7.5% increase in underlying profit before tax to £91.6 million for the year ending December 2014. Management says European markets were challenging but North America and Asia performed well overall. The group has proposed a final dividend of 7p per share, up from 6.7p in 2013.
Among the bigger movers, Mariana Resources (MARL:AIM) confirms a second exceptional intercept of 82m at 20.4 g/t Gold and 1.94% Copper at Hot Maden Prospect, Eastern Turkey. It shares rose 21.74% to 1.4p.
Northcote Energy (NCT:AIM) says its acquisition of NAP USA is now unconditional. Separately, it has issued 75.2 million fully paid shares to Darwin Strategic following the receipt of a conversion notice. Northcote's shares fall 13% to 0.1p.
Central Rand Gold (CRND:AIM) has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Huili Resources over the potential sale of Central Rand Gold (Netherlands Antilles) NV. Its shares jump 24% to 16.75p.
Aspiring borate and lithium producer Bacanora Minerals (BCN:AIM) rises 6% to 44p after 12% shareholder Rare Earth Minerals (REM:AIM) calls for an EGM to appoint its boss David Lenigas to the board of Bacanora. We looked at the prospects for both companies in a recent Shares article which you can read here.
Telematics kit manufacturing minnow Trakm8 (TRAK:AIM) has been awarded a contract by Marmalade, the specialist provider of cars and insurance for young drivers. The initial contract order is valued at £1 million, which will be realised within the next financial year, sparking the shares into a 6% leap higher to 89p.
Informa (INF), up 3.4% to 533.25p, has upped its full year dividend 2% to 19.3p after delivering on its promise of improved earnings against significant forex headwinds. Adjusted operating profits totalled £334.1 million, from £334.7 million a year earlier.