UK stocks make a feeble attempt at a rally in early trade on Wednesday after Tuesday's sharp sell-off, with little in the way of economic or corporate news to inspire interest. The FTSE 100 climbs 37 points, or 0.5%, higher but remains below the 7,000 mark at 6,985.
Major banks open higher after yesterday's significant falls, although gains are little to write home about, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) up around 0.5% to 346.8p, Lloyds (LLOY) 0.4% higher at 87.18p and Barclays (BARC) improving nearly 1% at 267.15p.
Heading the Footsie leader board is fags firm Imperial Tobacco (IMT) in the wake of news that a subsidiary has received US Federal Trade Commission approval for the acquisition of certain US cigarette and e-cigarette brands and assets currently owned by Reynolds and Lorillard following the proposed acquisition of Lorillard by Reynolds. The shares rise around 2.4% to £33.62.
Among the bigger movers, cancer drug developer ValiRx (VAL:AIM) leaps 35% to 70.5p despite saying nothing new about its plans. The day's jump is clearly down to fans of the company outweighing the detractors.
Bus builder Optare (OPE:AIM) heads the AIM loser board, slumping 37% to 0.02p, as investors continue to ditch the stock in the run up to its shareholder meeting, where it will seek to delist from the public market.
Oil companies Lansdowne Oil & Gas (LOGP:AIM) and Providence Resources (PVR:AIM) are down 16.3% to 6.7p and 10.1% to 24.3p respectively on a lack of progress on the farm-out of their shared Barryroe discovery. Alongside its prelims, Providence says it is yet to conclude discussions with a proposed 'farminee' alluded to earlier this year.
Trinidad oil firm Trinity Exploration & Production (TRIN:AIM) down 12.1% to 13.6p as investors grow frustrated at the lack of progress in selling the company. 2014 results reveal underlying earnings down to $28.5 million from $34.8million in 2013.
Spirit Pub (SPRT) climbs 0.8% to 116.5p following news the Competition & Markets Authority intends to accept Greene King's (GNK) disposal of 16 pubs which will allow it to complete its acquisition of Spirit before the end of June. Greene King, which edges up 0.4% to 834.5p, says the deal will have a minimal impact on profit and business disruption.
Cut-price greeting cards-to-gifts retailer Card Factory (CARD) clips ahead 1.15p to 342.15p on a reassuring first quarter trading update. Revenue grew 7.5% in Q1, driven by like-for-like growth, new stores and online progress. And with debt levels falling, cash-generative Card Factory says it will return surplus funds to shareholders towards the end of the current financial year.
IRN-BRU-to-Strathmore water company A.G. Barr (BAG) turns flat, off 3.2% at 603p on a mellow annual meeting update. Against a tough prior year comparative, the soft drinks company reports a 1.1% total sales decline for the 15 weeks to 9 May, though still expects to meet full-year forecasts with the help of a stronger second half.