Firmer metal prices help miners to early gains in London as the FTSE 100 treads water ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen this evening.
A second reading of US first quarter GDP at 12.30 BST could provide some clues on Yellen's outlook for interest rates in an address which is scheduled after markets close in the US.
Overnight, stocks gained in Tokyo and Hong Kong but fell slightly in Shanghai as data on Chinese industrial profits disappointed. London's leading stocks open flat at 6,269 with better-than-expected consumer confidence data for May published by consultancy Gfk making little impact.
Choppy trading in sterling early on fails to reverse a half cent decline against the US dollar over the last 24 hours. One pound buys $1.467.
Miners are the biggest gainers with Rio Tinto (RIO), up 1.9% at £20.07, BHP Billiton (BLT), up 1.5% at 865p, Anglo American (AAL), 1.4% higher at 638p, and Glencore (GLEN), up 1.2% at 138p, at the top of the leaderboard.
Outsourcer Capita is the biggest blue chip faller, down 1.6% at £10.80, on a bearish research note published by investment bank Exane BNP Paribas.
Iconic British retailer Marks & Spencer (MKS) continues to fall, off another 2.4p at 388.2p as investors frown upon the materially downgraded profit guidance from new CEO Steve Rowe, delivered alongside downbeat annual numbers earlier in the week.
Arbuthnot (ARBB:AIM) advances 5.4% to £15.68 on plans to sell 31.5% of retail bank Secure Trust (STB:AIM) through a placing for £145 million. Shares will be sold for £25 each, a 10.7% discount to Thursday’s closing price, with the proceeds funding the private bank’s growth. Arbuthnot retains a 20% stake in Secure Trust, which plans to move to the main market. Its shares dived 9.8% to £25.25 on the news.
Life insurer Phoenix (PHNX) rises 1.9% to 865.5p on buying AXA Wealth’s pension and protection business for £375 million in cash. The deal, to be funded by debt and a placing, will add £12.3 billion of assets under management and 910,000 policies to the business.
Family-controlled car dealer Caffyns (CFYN) speeds 5p higher to 575p on strong finals showing underlying profit before tax up 15.6% to £2.86 million, delivered on like-for-like sales growth across new and used cars. The dividend rises 7.4% to 21.75p and there's also a confident outlook statement from CEO Simon Caffyn.
Video games developer Frontier Developments (FDEV:AIM) adds 1.5% to 201.5p on news it has released the next major expansion of its Elite Dangerous: Horizons game, slightly earlier than anticipated. This will have a positive impact on revenue and profitability in the year ending 31 May. The group plans to launch a version for Xbox One on 3 June.