London stock markets rally in early trade on Wednesday as eurozone finance ministers agree to unlock €10 billion in bailout funds. The agreement, alongside the International Monetary Fund, will release fresh loans to Greece after agreeing the nation had met its obligations.
This puts investors in bullish mood, coming on top of gains on Wall Street and in Asia overnight, with US new home sales data seemingly supporting calls for the Fed to up interest base rates Stateside as early as June.
The FTSE 100 index adds around 30 points, or roughly 0.5%, to 6,248, with midcaps and smaller company indexes similarly positive. Major markets across Europe are all firmly higher.
In corporate news, a likely short-term profits shock sparks a substantial sell-off at high street icon Marks & Spencer (MKS). The shares tumble more than 7% to 413.5p as new CEO Steve Rowe sets out his strategic plan to recover and grow Clothing & Home sales and continue to grow the Food business. But Rowe also warns that difficult trading conditions at home and overseas, combined with the costs of his turnaround plan for fashion, 'will have an adverse effect on profit in the short term'. Rowe's downward earnings revision accompanies full year results showing an 18.5% taxable profits slump to £488.8 million.
Specialist electrical and telecommunications retailer Dixons Carphone (DC.) clips ahead 1.6% to 455.2p as a strong fourth quarter enables charismatic boss Seb James to narrow annual pre-tax profit guidance upwards to between £445 million and £450 million, an increase of about 17% year-on-year.
Successful contract negotiations mean underlying profit at Serco (SRP) will be better than expected in 2016, according to a trading statement, boosting shares 11.4% to 102p. Revenue and underlying profit-before-tax are now expected to be 'not less than' £2.9 billion and £65 million, respectively, up from prior guidance of £2.8 billion and £50 million.
Payments specialist Paysafe (PAYS) gains 7.1% to 418p as it upgrades revenue and profit guidance in a trading update. Full year revenue is now expected to be between $950 million and $970 million (£655 million and £669 million) and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation will be in the range of $270 million to $276 million, up from market expectations of $260 million.
Tool hire outfit HSS Hire (HSS) dips 7.5% to 93p as it flags 'some signs of softness in the broader UK economy' as well as competitive markets. Revenue was up 8% in the first quarter, after adjusting for an extra trading week. HSS reported its numbers for the 14 weeks to 2 April rather than the 13 weeks typically reported by peers.
A deeply discounted fund raise sparks a big sell-off at innovation process software minnow Imaginatik (IMTK:AIM). The £2.1 million cash call, via a joint placing and open offer, is priced at 2.5p per share, a near-20% discount to the previous 3.13p close. The fresh funds will be used to largely shore up the firm's balance sheet, although part of the cash will be invested in sales and consulting capacity. The shares, surprisingly, only slump 8%, to 2.88p.
Entertainment marketing micro-cap Reach4Entertainment (R4E:AIM) plummets 9.5% to 2.4p on a 31% drop in adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) to £1.8 million in 2015, due to 2014 being an exceptional year for its SpotCo division and additional staff costs. Revenue is up 3.1% to £85.9 million and the group has swung to a pre-tax profit of £4.5 million after making an exceptional gain from a debt write-off. Read our exclusive web story here.
Cancer detecting liquid biopsy developer Angle (AGL:AIM) rises 3.1% to 66.5p on its Parsortix device being used by Cancer Research UK for research and clinical trials at the University of Manchester. The company also raises £10.2 million through a placing to fund Parsortix’s tests and to strengthen sales and marketing.
Drug discovery specialist E-Therapeutics (ETX:AIM) advances 2.8% to 13.6p on a positive update where management expect one of its projects to reach pre-clinical development in the coming months. The company has £24.8 million cash and expects to receive a £2.5 million R&D tax credit.
Fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers distributor Total Produce (TOT:AIM) perks up 1.5p to 127.5p as it raises its full year earnings per share target into the upper half of a 10.5 cent-to-11.5 cent range following a good first four months of 2016. For more on the acquisitive company's competitive strengths and growth ambitions, click here.