London equities begin the week on the front foot in early trade on Monday after a gruelling Friday session saw key indices plumb depths not seen for some time. Today's boost comes from reassuring action by China’s central bank which has introduced measures to stem capital outflows. The People’s Bank of China said on Monday it will start implementing a reserve requirement ratio (RRR) on offshore banks' domestic deposits to restrict speculation on further depreciation of the yuan, which has been a major concern for investors worldwide.
In corporate news, the big story surrounds J Sainsbury (SBRY) bid target Home Retail (HOME). It finds its shares in demand, up another 1% to 154.5p, after agreeing the £340 million sale of DIY chain Homebase to Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers (WES:AX). Home Retail also says it plans to return £200 million in cash to shareholders should the deal go through, a transaction that would leave it focused on the transformation of surprise Sainsbury's target Argos.
There's news too on the banking front where shares in Clydesdale Bank will be sold for between 175p and 235p each, valuing the high street lender at between £1.5 billion and £2 billion. Conditional trading in the business, which includes Yorkshire Bank, is expected to start on 2 February.
Among the bigger movers, US hydrocarbons producer Empyrean Energy (EME:AIM) gains 54% to 7.7p on news it has agreed to sell its main asset - a 3% working interest in the Sugarloaf AMI project in Texas - for $71.5 million. The current market cap is just more than £16 million.
On the explorers front, E&P Petroceltic (PCI:AIM) is down 18.9% to 14.5p as investors fret about its financial position as it announces a further waiver of repayments under its senior bank facility.
Hydrogen fuel cells developer Ceres Power (CWR:AIM) jumps 22% to 5.26p as it signs a new two-year Joint Development Agreement with Honda R&D to jointly develop Solid Oxide Fuel Cell stacks using Ceres Power's metal supported Steel Cell technology for a range of potential power equipment applications.
Active Energy (AEG:AIM), up 16.59% to 5.98p, said its AEG WoodFibre division has secured two significant new supply contracts for 2016, and that it is investing in a new softwood production line to augment its recently-upgraded hardwood processing facilities.
Investors welcome the prospect of a new broom at Amec Foster Wheeler (AMFW). The shares rise 4.8% to 407p as the oil services firm announces Samir Brikho is stepping down with finance director Ian McHoul stepping up on a temporary basis while a replacement is found.
High-quality homewares maker Portmeirion (PMP:AIM) perks up 5.1% to 980p as news pre-tax profit for calendar 2015 will be 'slightly ahead of market expectations' prompts upgrades. The running Shares Play of the Week flags record sales, up at least 11% to more than £68 million, with business in the UK robust, India sales on a tear and the US performing strongly in the run up to Christmas.
Technology and pharmaceutical investor Imperial Innovations (IVO:AIM) climbs 6.2% to 382.2p on investing £25 million in UCL Technology Fund, established to commercialise University College London’s research. The agreement increases Imperial’s candidate pipeline.