UK shares rally strongly in early trade on Thursday as investors lap up the US Fed's expected 0.25% rate hike overnight, despite a cautious accompanying statement. Wall Street and Asia were firmer overnight, and Europe is up more than 2.7% so far. In London, insurance and financials lead the charge, with Old Mutual (OML) again topping the Footsie leader board with 7.6% gain to 177.6p as it bounces back from currency hits.
Seeding the wider market optimism further are strong UK retail sales for November. Latest data shows them rising 1.7% over October, beating economists’ expectations for a 0.5% increase as shoppers made the most of Black Friday bargains.
Among the bigger company movers, Forte Energy (FTE:AIM) soars 55% to 0.02p as it signs off on a funding agreement with DJ Family Trust as a first step to reaching an in-principal agreement to enter into a corporate transaction in the financial technology sector. It will receive A$0.2 million via a Convertible Note.
Chemicals firm Hardide (HDD:AIM) rallies 27% to 1.18p as tests on its Hardide-A coating match exacting standards of Airbus' technical performance requirements. This means it could be an alternative to hard chrome plating and was available for consideration by design engineers and sub-contractors on some specific Airbus components.
Pathfinder Minerals (PFP:AIM), up 25% to 1.1p, says HMRC has rescinded its decision to cancel the company's VAT registration and to demand the repayment of £1.1 million of refunded VAT, with interest.
TV and film rights business Entertainment One (ETO) gains 4.2% to 177p as it extends its output agreement with DreamWorks Pictures through the creation of a new partnership. Teaming up with industry heavyweights, including Steven Spielberg, it joins new film, television and digital content creation company - Amblin Partners.
The company will handle distribution for the venture in a number of territories including the UK, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. The shares were savaged in the wake of a poorly received refinancing earlier this month (4 Dec).
Real Greek and Franco Manca restaurant operator Fulham Shore (FUL:AIM) gains 3.2% to 20.1p after almost doubling its operating profit from £0.9 million to £1.7 million in the six months to 27 September. Pre-tax profit is down from £628,000 to £126,000 as a result of acquisition and pre-opening costs. The group acquired sourdough pizzeria Franco Manca in April and has increased the number of sites from 12 to 18. Read Shares web story exclusive here.
Drugs giant AstraZeneca (AZN) advances 1.7% to £44.92 on agreeing to buy 55% of Dutch outfit Acerta Pharma, which has cancer treatment in later stage clinical trials. It will pay $2.5 billion on completion with up to $1.5 billion due by the end of 2018. This comes a day after it clinched a deal to buy Takeda Pharmaceutical’s respiratory business.