London shares start Friday trading modestly lower as investors look to top slice short-term profit gains. The FTSE 100 index nudges around 10 points lower to 6,788, while the FTSE 250 midcaps and the wider FTSE All-Share post similarly slight declines, with market attention finally switching away from Greece debt and on to an increasingly likely uptick in the interest rate environment.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney told an audience last night at Lincoln Cathedral that Brits should expect slow rate raises by the end of 2015, saying: 'In my view, the decision as to when to start such a process of adjustment will likely come into sharper relief around the turn of this year.'
In a quiet session for corporate news high street bellwether Marks & Spencer (MKS) is in focus as its shares cheapen 1.4% to 538.25p. The decline is in response to news that John Dixon, who heads up the struggling General Merchandise business, is off to pastures new. After 29 years at M&S, he has resigned to take up a chief executive's role at an unspecified other retailer.
Among the bigger movers, shares in New World Oil & Gas (NEW:AIM) crash 65% to 0.09p as a trading suspension is lifted. Also sharply lower is Frontier Resources (FRI:AIM), down 40% to 0.45p, as the resources minnow conditionally places 58.6 million shares at 0.35p each to raise £205,000.
In the same space, Atlas Development (ADSS:AIM) collapses 47% to 1.05p as it declares projected half-year revenue of $11 million, roughly in line with expectations, although substantial pre-tax losses of about $2.5 million will be incurred. Read Shares exclusive web story here.
Antibiotics developer Motif Bio (MTFB:AIM) climbs 5.7% to 68.7p on the Food & Drug Administration in the US is to fast track a decision on iclaprim’s use in tackling hospital acquired bacterial pneumonia. This is part of Motif’s work in fighting multi-drug resistant bacteria.
Sula Iron & Gold (SULA:AIM) falls 9.4% to 1.45p as investors are disappointed that a wealth of exploration data is inadequate to constitute a formal resource statement. Today's data is mostly grab samples which cannot be relied upon; you need to drill into the ground to get an accurate picture of the quality and quantity of gold.
Elsewhere, online gambling group 888 (888) climbs 3% to 164.8p after it emerges as the winning bidder for Bwin.Party (BPTY), despite its bid of 104.1p per share being lower than GVC's (GVC:AIM) bid of 110p. The companies say the combined group will benefit from significantly enhanced scale, a better product offering and cost and revenue synergies. Bwin edges down 0.3% on the news.
Discount retailer B&M European Value Retail (BME) bounces 2.25% higher to 347.65p on a positive first quarter trading update. Though UK like-for-like sales growth slowed to 1.1% against a tough 6% prior year comparative, total sales were up 25.3% and expansionist B&M is confident of 'at least meeting' annual profit forecasts.
Product testing specialist Intertek (ITRK) gains 2.2% to £24.61 on a slight oil price bounce. Oil and gas is a key market for the £3.9 billion cap. Sector peer Rotork (ROR), manufacturer of valves for energy markets, also extends gains from yesterday, adding 1.3% to 218p. Brent crude is up 0.5% to $57.20 (£36.53).
Home repairs outfit Homeserve (HSV) sheds 1.4% to 433p on an in-line trading statement and confirms plans, which are subject to shareholder approval, to pay a 30p special dividend. 'We expect to deliver good growth in 2016,' management says.