UK equities continue yesterday's rally away from three-year lows as a plethora of resources, retail and financials press ahead in early deals. There's also better news from China as the world's second biggest economy shows a trade surplus widening to 382.05 billion yuan in December from 343.10 billion in November, beating analysts’ forecasts of 338.80 billion yuan.
Exports rose unexpectedly by 2.3% in December following a 3.7% dip a month earlier. Economists had pencilled in a 4.1% drop.
On the corporate front, supermarkets giant J Sainsbury (SBRY) is 0.45p easier at 250.75p, despite reporting an improving trend in its Christmas trading update. Third quarter like-for-like sales (ex fuel) fell 0.4%, though this was ahead of consensus expectations and represents a significant improvement on the previous two quarters. CEO Mike Coupe now expects second half same-store sales to be better than the first too.
HSBC (HSBA) advances 1.3% to 511.9p on reports that institutional shareholders believe the bank will not desert London and re-domicile abroad.
East African gas producer Aminex (AEX:AIM) gains 8.7% to 1.63p as it secures a gas sales agreement with the Tanzanian state oil company for its Kiliwani North field, thereby moving it into the production phase.
Independent Oil & Gas (IOG) dives 40.6% to 5.12p as it delays its key Skipper well due to adverse weather in the North Sea and the oil price environment. It also announces plans for £10 million of new funding from London Oil & Gas.
Back on the retail front, budget footwear retailer Shoe Zone (SHOE:AIM) skips 9.6% higher to 182.5p despite posting slightly lower full-year pre-tax profit. The market likes news Shoe Zone will pay a special dividend of 6p per share (£3 million) on top of a 6.5p final dividend, having grown cash balances from £9.1 million to £14.2 million during the year. A strengthening of product margins in a tough retail market as well as strong online growth also please punters.
Investors hug British fashion brand Ted Baker (TED) tight, the shares ticking 6.3p higher to £28.70 on a positive Christmas trading statement flagging a 10.1% increase in retail sales over the 8 weeks to 9 January and a 40% online sales surge.
Homewares leader Dunelm (DNLM) loses 3.5% at 873p as second quarter like-for-like sales disappoint, the cushions-to-curtains retailer's sales hit by unseasonably warm weather. We'll look at the update in more detail on the Shares website later.
Shopping centre investor Capital & Regional (CAL) climbs 2.4% to 64.7p on a solid showing in 2015 where lettings, valuations and rental income all improved year-on-year. The real estate investment trust also bought Marlowes Shopping Centre in Hemel Hempstead for £35.5 million, which will generate 7% of the purchase price in rent each year.