London stocks open the largely flat with a string of sagging house builders leading the blue-chip pack lower in what some market watchers believe will be a rather lacklustre session. Wall Street rose overnight Friday, and Asia was mixed this morning. Europe is firmly lower.
The FTSE 100 index nudges just two points higher to 6,205, although that's better than either the midcaps or the smaller companies index can manage, both firmly down in early trade Monday.
The big corporate news story broke over the weekend with reports suggesting that Daily Mail newspaper owner Daily Mail General Trust (DMGT) is mulling a for opnline search and content web business Yahoo (YHOO:NDQ). The story has so far been neither confirmed or denied by the publishing group, and the shares barely react, tipping the scale at just 0.5% higher at 698.5p.
Elsewhere, Cumbria-based bespoke paper manufacturer James Cropper (CRPR) gains 10% to 727.5p after saying full year results will materially exceed market expectations after experiencing healthy sales growth, particularly in the technical fibre division. Insurance is expected to compensate for any adverse financial impact from Storm Desmond, which caused flooding at its mill in Burneside. Read our web story here.
US-based iodine producer Iofina (IOF:AIM) storms ahead, up 84.6% to 9p, as it confirms first half output guidance. The company, which extracts the element from the waste brine water involved in oil production, says it is confident of hitting its previously stated target of 250 to 270 metric tonnes of iodine.
Resources minnow Orsu (OSU:AIM) jumps 50% to 1.88p as it conditionally agrees to sell its 94.75% interest in its Karchiga Project for an initial consideration of $7.75 million, plus deferred consideration of up to $2 million.
Performance materials play Graphene NanoChem (GRPH:AIM) leaps 20% to 11.63p as it wins formal approval from its primary financier, Malaysia Debt Ventures for the restructuring of its short-term debt of about £16 million.
Pork processor Cranswick (CWK) fattens up another 4.7% to £22.83 on the acquisition of East Anglia-based integrated poultry business Crown for £40 million, an immediately earnings enhancing deal in-line with its strategy to drive growth through the development of new product channels in pork and other proteins. CEO Adam Couch says the deal represents 'an excellent opportunity for Cranswick to continue the development of its UK poultry business', as it builds on the successful October 2014 takeover of premium cooked poultry producer Benson Park.
Agriculture, food and engineering combine Carr's (CARR) cheapens 3.6% to 147p on downbeat interims, sales and profits heading south amid depressed farm gate milk and livestock prices. Analysts downgrade their forecasts as Carr's expects this tough UK agricultural backcloth 'to continue through 2016 and 2017, which will directly adversely impact our UK farm customers.'
A change of strategy at troubled testing kit-maker EKF Diagnostics (EKF:AIM) sends the shares 2% higher to 12.8p. Chris Mills, who owns almost 20% of the business, has replaced Ron Zwanziger as non-executive chairman after only five months in the role as the board are now focused on organic growth rather than acquisitions, which was more Zwanziger’s skill set. More details expected in 12 April’s prelims.