A robust trading update has triggered a 4.6% rise in industrial buy-out specialist Melrose Industries (MRO) to 256.3p, making it one of the best performers in the FTSE 100. The group is confident of meeting forecasts for 2013 after a strong first quarter. This prompted Liberum Capital to increase its price target for the stock to 295p.
FTSE 100 oil firm Tullow Oil (TLW) advanced 1.3% to £10.22 after reiterating production guidance of 86-92,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day for the full year and noting its French Guiana acreage 'remains highly prospective' despite an disappointing result from a well last month.
Defence giant BAE Systems (BA.) was in demand, up 2.2% at 383.1p, after indicating trading has been in line with expectations in the first four months of 2012. It reports half-year results on 1 August.
FTSE 100 Irish construction materials giant CRH (CRH) blamed bad weather in Europe for a 12% regional drop in a sales from January to April as well as a 2% drop in US sales which took the share price 3.9% lower to £13.79. In its outlook for the second half of year, the £10.4 billion cap said it expected EBITDA to be ahead of 2012's €1.04 billion.
Also in the FTSE 100, life insurer Resolution (RSL) fell 0.8% to 270.2p on worries that its generous dividend (yielding a prospective 8% before today's news) may not be sustainable. New business in the first quarter fell 17% to £242 million, below the £297 million consensus. Aviva (AV.) and RSA (RSA) slashed their shareholder returns in recent months in a tough market for life insurers and there are fears that Resolution could follow this year. Analysts at Investec estimate that the company will not reach its £400 million cash target until 2015, which they see as the trigger to recommence dividend growth.
A small rise in operating margins gave investors reason to raise a glass to JD Wetherspoon (JDW), up 0.8% to 598.5p. The pubs operators reported 8.5% margins in the 13 weeks to 28 April, versus 8.3% margins in the half-year to 27 January.
Collaboration and big data connectivity play WANdisco (WAND:AIM) has fine tuned its management team for a future growth blast. Current chief finance officer Nick Parker is standing down having done a commendable job in getting last year's most impressive IPO off the ground. His replacement is quite the coup, signing up former Sage (SGE) number-crunching heavyweight Paul Harrison. Harrison will relocate to the sun-drenched California, where most of the top management are based. The shares advanced 2.5% to 962.5p.
Home and vehicle insurer Esure (ESUR) improved 1.4% to 310.5p on a satisfactory trading update. Its gross written premiums in the first quarter increased 1.6% to £124.2 million year-on-year. This was in line with management expectations and the group, which listed on 27 March, saw its premium income in its motor operations rise 3.1% and by 5% in its home business.
Online gaming platform supplier Playtech (PTEC) advanced over 3% to 649.5p confirming optimism on future growth in a trading update. The company recently enjoyed a £424 million cash injection from bookmaker William Hill (WMH) in exchange for its 29% stake in their WHO joint venture.
Costain (COST) jumped 4.8% to 278.25p on a trading update. The heavy construction specialists said its forward order book increased to £2.5 billion from £2.4 billion in 2012, of which over 90% is repeat orders. The group also acknowledged that its failed bid for May Gurney (MAYG:AIM) cost £4 million.
Petra Diamonds (PDL) advanced 3.5% to 110p after a robust trading update, flagging stronger diamond prices. After failing to find a buyer for its small fissure mines, Petra will now 'downscale' operations.
International Mining & Infrastructure (IMIC:AIM) dipped 3.2% to 22.5p despite confirming that it had secured $100 million cash to fund its takeover of Afferro Mining (AFF:AIM). The £14 million cap didn't say how it had managed to get the financial support, but the announcement was enough to push up shares in Afferro by 2% to 75p as the bid starts to look more credible.
Shares in Ukrainian coal miner EastCoal (ECX:AIM) have been suspended amid financial issues. The group joined Aim on 28 December 2012, alongside an existing listing in Canada, in the belief that UK investors understood the coal market and were geographically closer to its assets. Alas, it has subsequently encountered geological problems and had to shut down its wash plant. This means very little revenue was coming into the business, leaving it with working capital problems.
European onshore oil & gas play Egdon Resources (EDR:AIM) slicked up 1.2% to 8.35p on a farm-out deal. Peer Union Jack Oil has agreed to take an 8.33% stake in the Wressle prospect in Lincolnshire in return for funding 16.66% of the well costs when the target is tested in the fourth quarter.
Oil explorer Wessex Exploration (WSX:AIM) ticked up 0.7% after announcing the French Guiana GM-ES-4 well, in which it has a 1.25% stake, has spudded.