UK shares are broadly flat in early trade on Thursday as the market remain unsurprisingly quiet ahead of the holiday. Equities rallied on Wednesday on the last full day of trading before Christmas but there is precious little news to spark a continued run on Christmas Eve. Among the biggest risers on the FTSE were oil and gas stocks as Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude prices surge. Crude is expected to be a continued focus on Thursday as oil producers continued to advance in morning trade such as Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) and BP (BP.). Brent and WTI rose 1% to $37.73 per barrel and 0.7% to $37.77 per barrel.
Mining stocks are on the front foot, including Anglo American (AAL) and BHP Billiton (BLT), as gold prices rose 0.41% on the Comex.
The FTSE 100 index nudges 8 points higher at 6,248, while the FTSE 250 rises 16 points, or 0.1%, to 17,408.8. UK markets close at 12.30pm.
Utilities tracing SSE (SSE), up 1% to 1531p, puts in a notable showing as did insurers in the wake of Legal & General (LGEN), up 0.9% to 270.3p. Also rising were banks, investment specialists, and commercial property, with just 31 blue chips edging south overall.
Among smaller caps, Caza Oil and Gas (CAZA:AIM) jumps 31% to 0.25p as it closes the equity financing and debt restructuring transactions announced 15 December, including the issue and sale to Talara Opportunities V LP of 9.5 billion common shares for $45.5 million at $0.0048 a share.
Construction firm Ashley House (ASH:AIM) jumps 14% to 11p after completing contracts with Funding Affordable Homes on its next two extra care developments. It also advised of the novation of a non-core part of its LIFT JV business.
Bellzone Mining (BZM:AIM), up 13% to 0.48p, has reached an agreement over its working-capital funding for 2016 with 50.50% shareholder Hudson Global. Its working-capital requirements to end-2015 have been funded by a $10 million loan facility from China Sonangol.