Investors appear to have the bank holiday on their minds with little interest for stocks in early deal on Friday. The benchmark FTSE 100 fades a couple of points lower to 6,958, failing to bounce back beyond the 7,000 mark. Midcaps do little better, drifting modestly to 17,458.
It's perhaps a reflection of the market mood that there's limited appetite for news that Lloyds Banking (LLOY) has signalled a return to the dividend list. The shares rise 3.3% to 79.9p despite the bank revealing pre-tax profits down 11% to £1.2 billion in the first quarter, mainly due on a £660 million loss on the sale of TSB (TSB) to Spain’s Sabadell.
Among the bigger movers, Berkeley Mineral Resources (BMR:AIM) dives 62.8% to 0.4p as its shares come out of suspension and the miner reveals financial pressures. It is fighting a tax bill and says 'it is essential' that shareholders approve the ability to raise more cash at its AGM.
Embattled African oil explorer Afren (AFR) soars 18.2% to 3.9p as news broke last night that it has secured $255 million in new debt funding - a first step in a wider recapitalisation plan it expects to complete by the end of July. The company also announced a $1.95 billion loss for 2014 and confirmed the appointment of new chief executive Alan Linn.
Silicon wafer recycler Pure Wafer (PUR:AIM) rockets 81% to 103.5p as it secures a hefty insurance settlement after a fiore destroyed its plant in Swansea in December. It believes the settlement will allow a return of surplus funds, likely greater than 125p a share.
Minnow oil firm Enegi Oil (ENEG:AIM) falls 20.6% to 0.68p as it fails to translate a memorandum of understanding with oil services firm Wood Group (WG.) on its unmanned buoy production technology into a firm agreement. Wood's name lent credibility to the venture but it is replaced by Apollo Offshore Engineering which joins Kongsberg Maritime and Braemar (BMS:AIM) as part of the Marginal Field Delivery Consortium.
Franchised motor retailer Cambria Automobiles (CAMB:AIM), a running Shares Play of the Week, adds another 1.75% at 58p on the 'immediately earnings enhancing' acquisition of its second Land Rover franchise for £7.56 million. The deal boosts its prestige brand portfolio and drives forecast upgrades this morning.
Scalextric maker Hornby (HRN) gains 5% to 93p after saying it delivered 'significantly improved' sales in the three months to 31 March. It expects to make a pre-tax profit of £1.5 million for the full year - its first profit for three years - with sales growth of 13%.
Fellow linen rental provider Johnson Service (JSG:AIM) says it plans to raise £21.1 million from institutional investors at 73p per share to fund a £63.4 million acquisition of London Linen Supply. Shares gain 1.6% to 74p.
Paper-based packaging group Smurfit Kappa (SKG) is down 1.4% to €27 on a 6% fall in pre-tax profit to €98 million in the first quarter, driven by its decision to adopt a new exchange rate for its Venezuelan operations. The company, which has also announced Tony Smurfit will take over as chief executive on 31 August, says it expects to deliver year-on-year earnings growth in 2015 as a result of a more positive European business environment and improvements in its operational performance in the Americas.
Begbies Traynor (BEG:AIM), down 9% to 43.5p, has reported that the number of UK corporate insolvencies in first quarter was 4014, an 11.3% reduction on the year. It expects its full year will be below market views.
Walkie-talkie tech supplier Sepura (SEPU:AIM) jumps 7% to 140p after sealing the €127.5 million acquisition of Teltronic. The market likes the deal and is happy to support the fully underwritten firm placing and placing and open offer to raise £56.9 million cash call.
Workwear rental and pest control giant Rentokil Initial (RTO) gains 1.8% to 137p as first quarter revenue and cash flow beat the prior year. Chief executive Andy Ransom says six bolt-on acquisitions were completed in the three months to end-March.