London shares make positive moves higher in early trade on Thursday as investors begin to put Greece debt deal talk behind them and focus on future corporate earnings. The benchmark FTSE 100 index rises 36 points, or about 0.54%, to 6,790, gains broadly matched by the midcap FTSE 250 and the wider FTSE All-Share.
Investors remain sanguine over a possible enforced break-up of UK telecoms giant BT (BT.A), the shares barely budging at 467.5p. UK communications watchdog Ofcom has pitched this as one of several possible options to encourage greater competition in the UK communications market, a plan that would involve splitting out the group's Openreach infrastructure division, which owns the physical network used by several competitors, from the main group.
Merged electrical and telecommunications retail titan Dixons Carphone (DC.) ticks 1.32% higher to 467.6p, as forecast-busting finals, a 42% hike in the dividend to 8.5p and news merger savings will be delivered a year ahead of plan entice buyers.
Mike Ashley's Sports Direct (SPD), a running Shares Play of the Week, cheapens 10.5p to 724p. Though full-year pre-tax profits are slightly ahead of forecasts, the sports retail powerhouse lowers this year's underlying earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) target from £480 million to £420 million, to reflect planned acquisitions that 'did not fully materialise' last year.
Hopes of Central Rand Gold (CRND) being taken over are diluted after the miner says one of its potential suitors has now started talking about a strategic investment in the company rather than an all-out bid, although the latter remains an option. The news sends the share price down 12.2% to 17.13p.
Italy-focused E&P Sound Oil (SOU:AIM) is up 7.6% to 19.4p as it takes the final step towards bringing its Nervesa gas field on stream with the award of a production concession from the Italian authorities. You can read Shares exclusive web story here.
Elsewhere, PVCu windows and doors retailer Safestyle UK (SFE:AIM) rises 2.6% to 236.88p on a positive first half trading statement, flagging a record market share and containing a confident second half outlook. Shares outlined the company's attractions in May.
Retail meat packing play Hilton Food (HFG) falls 3.1% to 452.88p on a downbeat first half trading update, highlighting persisting 'challenging consumer conditions' in some countries and an ongoing headwind from the strength of the pound.
Lavendon (LVD) bucks the trend in the equipment hire sector, gaining 2.3% to 186p on a bullish trading update which includes plans to up expenditure on new rental stock. Despite profit warnings at two industry peers, Lavendon's rental revenue in the three months to 30 June 2015 is up 2% on a constant currency basis, versus 1% in the first quarter. Improving performance in France, Germany and the UK are offset by a weakening Middle East.
Middle East hotel operator Action Hotels (AHCG:AIM) gains 0.9% to 57p on a 14% increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to $8.7 million in the first half, with revenues 11% higher at $21.6 million. The group says its on track to meet its expectations for the full year.
Self-storage player Big Yellow (BYG) advances 1.6% to 684.5p on a 10% rise in revenue during the first quarter to £2.2 million compared to the same period a year ago. This is the result of increasing occupancy after uncertainty was removed following the General Election.