London's FTSE 100 leaps higher on Thursday, up 99.4 points to 5966.6 early on and taking its lead from an overnight rally in the US as oil prices stabilised. Bargain hunting is the name of the game following this week's oil price volatility and uncertainty over the impact of the forthcoming EU referendum and global growth concerns.
On a busy day for corporate earnings, Lloyds Banking (LLOY) rebounds 9.8% to 68.3p after announcing a 200% dividend hike to 2.25p a share for 2015. This comes despite pre-tax profits slumping 7% to £1.6 billion thanks to a £4 billion payment protection insurance (PPI) charge. The dividend rise is being partly funded by a cut in staff bonuses.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) enjoys a positive knock-on effect, its shares gaining 4% at 241.5p ahead of Friday's (26 Feb) full year results.
Government outsourcer Serco (SRP) enjoys a 17.8% bounce to 96p despite issuing a full year results update which shows underlying trading profit hit £96 million, in line with management guidance. The number excludes £107.3 million of exceptional items in a scrappy set of numbers which also reveal a jump in non-recurring finance costs after a March 2015 rights issue.
Moving the other way, fellow outsourcer Capita (CPI) is among the bigger losers in the FTSE 350, shedding 4.7% to £10.22. Full year results show solid progress in earnings per share and dividends, each up 9% to 70.7p and 31.7p respectively. But the news is not as good on Capita’s bid pipeline, which declined to £4.7 billion from £5.1 billion at the same time last year.
Home and car insurer RSA (RSA) climbs 7.4% to 423.7p after posting a 17.4% surge in pre-tax profit to £323 million on fewer large claims in 2015. The More Than owner has also been given the thumbs up by the European regulator on the size of its cash reserves to protect against underwriting and investment risks.
Wealth manager St James’s Place (STJ) slips 1.4% to 844.5p on news annual pre-tax profits fell 17.2% to £151.3 million, thanks to a higher Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy and an investment in its Asian operations, academy and back office systems.
Oil services outfit Petrofac (PFC) builds on yesterday's advances after well received full year numbers which showed reduced indebtedness and a bumper order book. Shares in the company are up 9% to 847.5p.
Copper producer Kaz Minerals (KAZ) jumps 8.6% to 157.5p as full year operating costs come in below guidance, so too capital expenditure to keep its mine running. Investors seem less concerned that it has decided not to pay a dividend and that net debt stands at $2.25 billion versus a market cap for the equity of $1 billion.
Iron ore explorer Beowulf Mining (BEM:AIM) dives 28.6% to 4.43p on a heavily-discounted fundraising. The company has secured £1.25 million to fund exploration work by issuing new shares at 3.25p each.
Construction and housebuilding outfit Galliford Try (GFRD) adds 1.4% to £14.03 after half year results show revenue increasing by 12% to £1.26 billion while profit before tax rises 24% to £52.9 million.