UK stocks edge lower in early trade Tuesday with investors playing a waiting game ahead of a busy session for economic data, with Chinese housing numbers and the German job count the main features. The FTSE 100 index is off around 12 points, or 0.2%, at 6,875, led lower by aero-defence firm Meggitt (MGGT), down 2.4% at 549.5p.
However, DIY stores owner Kingfisher (KGF) impresses with plans to close 60 stores, as new chief executive Véronique Laury unveiled full year results and set out her plans for a 'very different' company. The B&Q chain-owner also announces a £200 million cash return.
FTSE 100 copper miner Antofagasta (ANTO) jumps 2.5% to 757.75p despite denying speculation that it will merge with Canadian peer Teck Resources. Antofagasta rubbishes a report by Bloomberg, saying it is not in merger talks.
Cigarette manufacturers Imperial Tobacco (IMT) and British American Tobacco (BATS) prop up the FTSE leaderboard, falling 2.7% and 1.1% respectively. A New York Times report indicates US regulator the Federal Trade Commission is planning to block a complex $27 billion (£18.3 billion) tobacco merger between US-listed Reynolds American (RAI:NYSE) and Lorillard (LO:NYSE). Imperial is due to buy up unwanted assets as part of the deal, while British American owns 42% of Reynolds. A final decision could be made later today, according to the report.
Among bigger movers, aspiring coal miner-to-power plant operator Ncondezi Energy (NCCL:AIM) jumps 15.8% to 2.75p after being given more time to find a strategic investor in order to secure an electricity offtake deal with Mozambique energy group EdM. Investors also like news there's enough cash to keep the business going until early 2016.
Quantum dots technology developer Nanoco (NANO:AIM) hits the skids as it raises more money from investors at a steep 24% discount to yesterday's 138.75p close. The £20 million of new cash, raised at 105p, will go towards planned volumes build-up, while the company also plans to move up to the main market from AIM.
Kurdistan oil producer Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) falls 10.5% to 36.25p as it announces a $40 million share sale to give it some near-term breathing room as it continues negotiations over a potential sale of the company. It issues 85.9 million new shares at 32p.
Elsewhere, a mild profit warning at facilities management specialist Mitie (MTO) sends shares 6.3% lower to 274p. Local Authority spending cuts are putting pressure on its home care and social housing businesses, according to a pre-close trading update. Mears (MER), which also runs social housing and home care for Local Authorities, opens flat at 426p.
Mobile marketing specialist and running Shares Play of the Week InternetQ (INTQ:AIM) falls 3.1% to 344p on its 2014 results. Although revenues grew 27% to €132.4 million in line with guidance the market may have been troubled by the modest free cash flow of €400,000 which reflects the heavy investment in its Minimob and Akazoo platforms.
Healthcare technology microcap Ultrasis (ULT:AIM) has had trading in its shares suspended at 0.1p as the threat of going out of business looms large. Funding talks hang in the balance with major shareholder Paul Bell, with a 14 April date set for the make or break decision.
DISCLOSURE: The author of the paragraph on tobacco companies, William Cain, owns shares in British American Tobacco.