UK markets continue to rally in early trade on Thursday with blue chips gaining on wide-ranging sector news, although resources stocks act as ballast. Wall Street rose overnight, as did Asian markets this morning. The market is looking to Bank of England's midday interest rate and QE decisions.
The benchmark FTSE 100 is up 44 points, or 0.6%, to 6,979, while midcaps are also in positive territory, the FTSE 250 rising 83 points to 17,645. WTI and Brent crude prices nudge around 1.5% higher a piece to $51.14/bbl and $56.41/bbl respectively after yesterday's mauling on larger than expected US inventories.
Life insurer and wealth manager Standard Life (SL.) heads the Footsie loser board as profit takers move in of the shares, marking the stock down to 470.5p. The company reports that 'some' savers have cashed in their pension pots following the introduction of new rules on Monday. In one case a saver is using their pension to buy a speedboat.
Miners crimp gains. Anglo American (AAL) pilots with a 3.5% slide to 990.3p, with BHP Billiton (BLT) fading 2.6% to £14.30. Sector sentiment continues to be dented by mixed base metals prices, and long-running concerns about China's economic growth.
But the big story of the day is the large oil estimate upgrade under the ground at the Horse Hill prospect, near Gatwick Airport. The news is causing considerable excitement with the leading member of the consortium UK Oil & Gas (UKOG:AIM) rocketing. Its stock soars 190% to 3.2p.
Griffin Mining (GFM:AIM) slumps 8.9% to 29.5p after a collapse in earnings following operational problems at its Caijiaying zinc mine in China. Processing activities for three months to upgrade its plant, so Griffin's sales volumes were negatively impacted.
Buy and build public sector IT business Castleton Technology (CTP:AIM) jumps 7.7% to 2.45p as it reveals better-than-anticipated trading from its Keylogic business. Acquired 2 March, Keylogic has delivered more than £1 million of bookings in March, a 40% hike on the corresponding period last year.
Interactive TV gaming company Netplay TV (NPT:AIM) loses 6.5% to 9p on a 31% fall in adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) to £3.6 million in 2014, driven by ineffective marketing and higher bonuses from competitors in the first half. The group says it has improved its marketing strategy which has resulted in lower customer acquisition costs. It will look at bolt-on and larger strategic acquisitions this year.
Luxury bag designer Mulberry (MUL:AIM) is marked up 9p to 884p on a bit of good news following a recent history of profit warnings. Mulberry flags continued improvements in retail trading and says year to March profit before exceptional items will be 'slightly ahead' of previously downgraded expectations thanks to careful cost control.
Sausages and sandwiches supplier Cranswick (CWK) continues to bring home the bacon, clipping 24p higher to £14.24 on a solid year-end and fourth quarter trading statement. Marking an improvement on its third quarter performance in a deflationary grocery market, organic sales grew 1% in Q4, with total sales 4% ahead, including cooked poultry acquisition Benson Park.
Life sciences services provider Abzena (ABZA:AIM) gains 1.5% to 84.5p on two new antibodies entering clinical development since its previous update on February 9. It has also increased its collaborations for its ThioBridge technology, which attaches drugs to antibodies.