The FTSE 100 takes its cue from Friday’s strong session on Wall Street as US lawmakers move closer to passing legislation which would cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. In early trading the index is up 0.55% at 7,531.88.

Trading platforms CMC Markets (CMCX) and IG (IGG) fall 14.9% to 142.75p and 10.3% to 657.5p respectively after the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) announces new restrictions on the offering of contracts for difference and binary options to retail clients.

In a response CMC notes the changes may have an impact on the group but welcomes ‘a consistent approach to regulation’ and the ‘raising of standards in the industry’. IG says it does not expect any material impact on performance in the current financial year but admits future years are difficult to predict. It reckons the impact to be less than 10% of revenue though.

Contractor Babcock (BAB) gains 1.3% to 693.5p as subsidiary Cavendish Nuclear wins a 10-year contract to supply equipment for the handling and containment of nuclear material at Sellafield. The work is worth up to £95m over the first three years.

Oil services firm Hunting (HTG) gains 4.5% to 576.5p as it guides for 2017 earnings to be near the upper end of expectations.

Drugs giant AstraZeneca (AZN) ticks up 0.7% to £49.16 as it gets a regulatory green light relating to its Tagrisso treatment for lung cancer.

Further down the pharmaceutical food chain, life sciences firm ValiRx (VAL:AIM) gains 27.2% to 7p as it is secures approval from the authorities to accelerate progress of a prostate cancer drug after encouraging early results.

Also on AIM, security firm Croma (CSSG:AIM) gains 43.7% to 90.5p as it snares a £27m contract, the largest in its history, with an unnamed ‘major UK local authority’.

Oil play Echo Energy (ECHO:AIM) gushes 20% higher to 21p as its shares emerge from suspension as it nears completion on a deal to buy producing assets in Argentina. Shareholders will vote on the transaction on 3 January. We looked at why the shares have enjoyed such a strong run in 2017 in this article.

Issue Date: 18 Dec 2017