London shares make modest gains as traders return to their desks after the Easter break. Bargain hunters provide support for several financial stocks, including insurer Prudential (PRU), which heads the FTSE 100 leader board up 2.3% at £13.045. Wall Street was mixed overnight, Asian markets were lower, although there are firmer gains across Europe.

The FTSE 100 index rises 24 points, or about 0.3%, higher to 6,129.

On the corporate front, soft drinks group A.G. Barr (BAG) edges 0.25p higher to 519.25p on robust finals showing operating margins and the dividend heading north following a year in which the IRN-BRU producer maintained its share of a challenged UK market. CEO Roger White concedes top-line growth 'remains under pressure', though reassuringly, he believes A.G. Barr's 'combination of brand strength, ongoing product reformulation and consumer drive innovation' will allow it to minimise the impact of the proposed sugar tax on soft drinks.

Sports marketing outfit and baseball agent TLA Worldwide (TLA:AIM) is up 41.5% to 58p as its shares resume trading for the first time since the revelation late Thursday night of an agreed 65p merger with Atlantic Alliance Partnership (AAPC:NDQ). Its suitor recognising the attributes we flagged in this article in November.

Microcap mobile marketing play CDialogues (CDOG:AIM) slumps 28.6% to 47.5p as the company says earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation will be less than the previously signalled €1.6 million due to reduced revenue and margins with contracts delivering less revenue than expected in the first quarter of 2016.

Bombed out oil and gas firm Ascent Resources (AST:AIM) is up 65.6% to 3.23p as peer Cadogan Petroleum (CAD:AIM) confirms a preliminary approach for the business.

Ambrosia, Bisto and Mr. Kipling brands owner Premier Foods (PFD) powers 8.2% higher to 56.25p on continued bid excitement; on Thursday, Premier said it would give 'careful consideration' to any improved offer from US spices and condiments maker McCormick & Co (MKC:NYSE) or indeed 'any other bona fide potential offeror'.

Proton beam machine-maker Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO:AIM) edges 1.6% higher to 7.7p on an upbeat update on the construction of its cancer-killing device. The LIGHT system’s development remains on track and its various modules will be tested during the remainder of 2016.

Clearance to sell its heart monitors in China sends LiDCO’s (LID:AIM) shares 1.7% higher to 7.2p.

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Issue Date: 29 Mar 2016