UK stocks begin trading on the back foot after near eight-week highs yesterday. The FTSE 100 index eass off 18 points to 6,813 with mining stocks bearing the brunt of the selling pressure in morning trade as investors book profits and scale back their risk appetite. Rio Tinto (RIO) leads the blue-chip loser board, off 2.8% to £32.425, followed by Chilean Antofagasta (ANTO), its' shares falling 2.4% to 789p.
Elsewhere in the resources space, a bullish exploration update from Kenya sees FTSE 100 oil explorer Tullow Oil (TLW) edge 1.1% higher to 729.5p. The Etom-1 well in the northern part of the Lokichar basin has discovered 10 meters of net oil pay extending the proven oil basin northwards. The Amosing-2 and Ngamia-3 appraisal wells further south were also successful and will boost the prospects for accelerated development of South Lokichar which has 600 million barrels of discovered resources.
But Iraq-based oil firm Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP:AIM) slumps 10% to 74.2p as its 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day 2014 production target is threatened by in-country violence. The company warns alongside its interims that a lack of international contractors mean the threshold may not be reached until the first quarter of 2015.
Mixed performances stem from the UK technology space with blue tooth tech manufacturer CSR (CSR) soaring, while inkjet print head develooper Xaar (XAR) plummets. Wireless technology group CSR jumps more than 26% to 728.5p as it rejects an approach from Arizona-based Microchip Technology. Rumours suggest several parties are casting glances the semiconductor maker's way, with a possible £1.8 billion bid war mooted. The company was valued at £969.2 billion based on yesterday's close.
But a revenue scare from Xaar sparks a collapse in the shares, down 21% to 440p, despite in line half year results. The inkjet printing technology firm has guided full year results around 11% down from previous expectations sparking analysts to take the red pen to sales and earnings forecasts. CEO Ian Dinwoodie recently announced his shock retirement, although several directors have been buying stock lately.
The AA (AA.) seems to be suffering its own breakdown as both the CEO and CFO leave abruptly. Yet the market shrugs the news off with the stock barely moving, edging up 1.5% to 280p, hardly a vote of confidence in the management team.
Recruitment specialist Hays (HAS) is flat at 129.8p in early trade as it reports in line final results for the 12 months to end June. Profit before tax and earnings per share come in at £132 million and 6.13p respectively, while CEO Alistair Cox says the £1.8 billion cap is 'ahead of schedule' on its target to double operating profit by 2018.
Central and Eastern European branded vodka producer Stock Spirits (STCK) cheapens 5p (1.7%) to 289p. Half-year operating profits fall 23% to €23.2 million on sales down 10% to €137.7 million, hit by a 15% excise duty increase in its biggest market, Poland, as well as devaluation of the Czech Koruna against the Euro.
Chinese electric scooter maker Vmoto (VMT:AIM) accelerates 3.3% to 2.35p. The stock is bid higher after interims reveal maiden profits for the first six months, generation of two consecutive quarters of positive operating cash flow and a bullish outlook statement. Shares flagged the likelihood of positive updates to come back in May, and first highlighted the potential almost a year ago at 1.55p.