After four straight losses, London's FTSE 100 is holding onto early gains today with a 20.9 point advance to 6,532.1, aided by unexpectedly strong Chinese trade data.
Among the market's notable movers, Newcastle-based housebuilder Bellway (BWY) has gained 2.5% to £15.13. A bullish pre-close trading update reveals margin and revenue gains as the UK housing market recovery seemingly gathers pace.
With the new homes market benefiting from growing consumer confidence, supported by the government's NewBuy and Help to Buy schemes, the £1.8 billion cap expects to report 12% growth in housing revenue for the year to end-July to around £1.1 billion.
Analysts have also upgraded their numbers on news of improved operating margins driven by a growing proportion of completions from higher-margin land acquired since the downturn.
Scottish life insurer Standard Life (SL.) slipped 8.9p to 378.5p despite the announcement of a 6% increase in first-half operating profits to £304 million.
Assets under management grew 7% to £178.8 billion and the FTSE 100 firm hiked its interim dividend by 6.5% to to a shade over 5.2p as management drew confidence from growing demand for its savings products.
Pubs play Enterprise Inns (ETI) surged 4.1% higher to 146.5p on news of improved trading trends in the second half and a return to growth in the opening five weeks of its fourth quarter.
Investors also raised a glass to full-year pub disposal proceeds 'in the region of £150 million' which will help the £715 million cap pare debt levels.
Heading south however is gambling giant Ladbrokes (LAD), which lost more than 3% at 201.3p on a weak trading statement.
The £1.9 billion cap's half-year results reveal a near-20% drop in operating profits to £85.7 million. The betting behemoth's outlook statement highlights very tough trading in a heatwave-hit July and is likely to prompt analysts to slash full-year forecasts.
As foreshadowed by Shares recently, today's half-year figures from Stanley Gibbons (SGI:AIM) confirm the stamp-selling star is making great strides with its global growth and web-based strategies. However the shares slipped 3.5p to 301.5p after a strong run, as internet investment spend held back interim profits. Read our analysis here.
Analysts at Canaccord believe this puts IQE 'on track for anticipated ramp in CPV revenues in the second half,' and reaffirm their 65p price target for the stock.
Dual-fuel system development microcap Clean Air Power (CAP:AIM) has revealed it is set to start kit testing with UPS (UPS:NYSE). The potential to get its equipment installed in many of the hundreds of trucks used by the giant US postal group sparked a rush for the shares, 3% higher to 9.12p. Shares flagged the potential of the US market for the £16.2 million cap last month at 7.88p.
Little eCommerce platform specialist @UK (ATUK:AIM) had made it a hat-trick, with three consecutive days of share price gains after its trading update this week.
The prospect that internal cash generation lessens the threat of a dilutive cash call continues to power the shares, up 17% today at 18.38. That makes for a 79% three-day run.
Cleanliness products specialist PuriCore (PURI) improved 3.9% to 40p on expectations new contract wins would boost second half revenues.
While interim figures revealed wider losses of US$6.6 million (2012: $1.5 million), the £19.3 million cap reports a near-150% surge in wound care sales to $1.7 million.
Diagnostic and testing kit maker Akers Biosciences (AKR:AIM) jumped 6.4% to 1.25p on news the microcap is seeking a listing on NASDAQ. It also plans to raise $15 million. Read our analysis of the Akers investment case from April here.