London shares rally strongly as the the trading week draws to a close early on Friday with interest rate rises and GDP growth figures stimulating market interest for investors, while corporate takeovers also provide additional positive firepower for stocks. Despite a relatively weak session overnight on Wall Street, the UK benchmark FTSE 100 index jumps 2.3%, or around 135 points, to 6,103, with midcap and smaller cap indexes also firmly higher, matching the mood being set across major stock markets across Europe.
Emissions specialist Johnson Matthey (JMAT) heads the Footsie leader board, leaping more than 5% to £25.23, seen as a beneficiary of the Volkswagen fallout, while financially stressed miner Glencore (GLEN) is also popular, up 4.5% to 103.05p.
Failing to join the rally are Imperial Tobacco (IMT) and gold miner Randgold Resources (RRS), the only two blue chips in negative territory among the FTSE 100 index.
UK tool rental giant HSS Hire (HSS) parts company with chief executive Chris Davies in a disastrous first year as a listed business. Investors bought into the business at 210p a share in February. HSS now trades 71% lower at 60p, though is up slightly today. Chief operating officer John Gill steps in to Davies' role on a permanent basis from today.
Among the bigger movers, STERIS’ (STE:NYSE) takeover of healthcare outsourcer Synergy Health (SYR) moves a step closer after a US judge rules against the Federal Trade Commission’s attempt to block the deal on tax inversion concerns. Synergy jumps 42.8% higher to £22.56 on the news.
Giving up the ghost is computer services minnow Ultima Networks (UTN:AIM), which is to pitch to shareholders the idea of flogging its struggling business operations and start all over again. It wants backing to raise £0.75 million via a placing, make board changes and reshuffle its capital structure to do so, but the mood is bleak surrounding the announcement, the stock collapsing 60% to just 0.1p, effectively making the firm worthless.
Another deeply discounted cash call spells trouble for digital security tiddler SerVision (SEV:AIM), its share price hammered more than 20% down to 3.62p as it goes cap in hand to shareholders for £0.79 million via a placing of 22.8 million shares at 3.5p each. Proceeds would be used to satisfy the company's existing order book and for working capital, but that represents a 24% discount to the shares' 4.62p Thursday close.
A one-off non-cash impairment charge totting up to £7 million sparks a big sell-off at electricity supplier Renewable Energy Generation (WIND:AIM), the stock slumping 12% to 39.5p. The company plans to press ahead with plans to buy four new UK onshore wind projects totalling 26MW.
Resources minnow African Potash (AFPO:AIM) leaps close on 10% higher to 3.13p as it agrees to establish a sale price of $500 per metric tonne (MT) in respect of 50,000MT of fertiliser product. Its pre-tax profit margin on this transaction is expected to be 6%.
Russian gas producer Volga Gas (VGAS:AIM) is down 19.1% to 42.5p as it swings to a loss for the first six months of 2015 of $1.6 million against an $8 million profit for the same period of 2014 due to the impact of lower sales volumes and prices coupled with higher taxes.
Elsewhere, London-focused builder Quintain Estates & Development (QED) rises 7% to 140.7p after Lone Star Real Estate Fund increased its 131p a share offer to buy the business to 141p, valuing the deal at £745 million.
In play insurance software firm Innovation (TIG) bats off the threat of a profits alert having already agreed a 40p per share takeover from private equity group Carlyle. The company warns that if it fails to close a handful of contracts in the pipeline by Wednesday (it's period end) its financial performance will be 'negatively affected.' The shares nudge 0.75p lower to 39p.
Mobile gaming company Nektan (NKTN:AIM) gains 2.3% to 156p after saying its US-based casino joint venture Respin is seeing considerable momentum in the US. Xtraspin wheels - mobile technology enabled bolt-on modules for slot machines - are now live in 12 casinos across California and Nevada, up from 4 at the end of June. In August real money gaming revenue was higher than the entire previous quarter due to a 70% rise in first time depositors.
Plastic additives specialist Symphony Environment (SYM:AIM) loses 3.3% to 7.3p after reporting a loss before tax of £0.18 million in the six months to 30 June compared with a profit of £0.01 million the previous year, owing to higher marketing and research and development costs. Revenues are broadly flat at £3.42 million.