UK employment numbers released this morning are in-line with expectations which, along with mining gains on the back of higher commodity prices, helps the stock market higher.
Unemployment was 4.9% in July, flat on the prior month, and employment increased 174,000 to 31.77 million, according to Office for National Statistics data.
Price gains in commodities see miners move from the bottom of the pile on Monday and Tuesday to the top today, as the FTSE 100 index gains 0.5% to 6,698 led by iron ore, platinum and diamonds producer Anglo American (AAL).
Moving the other way, Burberry (BRBY) dips 2.3% to £12.44 as fellow luxury brands Richemont and Hermes post downbeat trading statements in Europe. Housebuilders are also provide a bit of a drag on the index: Barratt (BDEV), Taylor Wimpey (TW.) and Berkeley (BKG), are all down 0.5% or more.
Online grocer Ocado (OCDO) continues to take a beating. The shares are sold down another 6.1% to 261p on the back of yesterday's third quarter missive, in which boss Tim Steiner warned of sustained and continuing margin pressure in a brutal UK grocery market and yet again failed to announce a major deal with a foreign retailer.
European floorcoverings distributor Headlam (HEAD) heads 19p lower to 448p on news long-serving CEO Tony Brewer is to step down following a 16-year stint in the hot seat. The good news is well-qualified numbers man Steve Wilson succeeds Brewer with immediate effect.
Miners are also in form among the small cap stocks, with Northern Ireland-based Dalradian Resources (DALR:AIM) an early mover. It has found more gold than expected from test work at its Curraghinalt project, triggering a 3.2% rise in its shares to 87.7p. It will release a feasibility study on the project later this year.
Premier African Minerals (PREM:AIM) may spin off its Zulu lithium prospect to be a separately-listed entity. The company has appointed David Lenigas, a resources investor who has been associated with several listed lithium companies, to review the project. Its shares jump 20.3% to 0.451p. Read our news analysis on the mining industry’s race to own lithium projects.
In retail news, the UK’s largest gym operator, Pure Gym, is to float on the London Stock Exchange, raising £190 million to pay down debt. It has 163 gyms, twice as many as its quoted rival The Gym Group (GYM).
The chief executive and chief operating officers of petrol forecourt retailer Applegreen (APGN:AIM) are to sell up to £23 million worth of shares, equal to 7.5% of the business. It is claimed they are selling down in response to institutional investor demand for stock and to increase general liquidity in the shares.