London shares are largely flat as cautious traders look to talks in Brussels over reforming the UK's place within the EU. Safe-haven gold races higher and UK gilt yields tighten. The benchmark FTSE 100 index nudges 5 points higher to 5,979, while midcaps and smaller companies also find little momentum to drive them either way.
Among the blue-chip benchmark's main risers was Coca-Cola HBC (CCH), the Coca-Cola (KO:NYSE) bottler which fizzed 4.1% higher to £14.30 after proposing an 11.1% increase in the 2015 dividend to €0.40 per share. Volumes were up in 2015 with established markets returning to growth for the first time in five years, good performances enjoyed in both Italy and Greece. That said, sales were impacted by currency headwinds and Coca-Cola HBC is finding the going tough in countries with large oil exposure.
Asset manager Standard Life (SL.) rises 1.3% to 342.7p on pre-tax profits beating expectations by improving almost 10% to £665 million during 2015. This is a result of a focus on drawdown pensions instead of annuities as well as a 4% rise in assets under management to £307 billion.
Small cap E&P Madagascar Oil (MOIL:AIM) remains under pressure - down 38.1% to 0.85p - following yesterday's revelation it may have to delist from the junior market thanks to an urgent need for short-term funds.
Essentra (ESNT), up 10% to 821p, says full year adjusted operating profits rose to £172 million, up 20% at actual and constant exchange rates. A dividend of 20.7p a share represents a welcome 13% increase.
Hotels group Millennium & Copthorne (MLC) is hammered 7% lower to 362.6p as it books a sharp fall in full year pre-tax profit to £109 million. That compares to a £188 million equivalent figure a year ago.