London stocks gain make steady gains in early deals on Friday, mimicking early gains across Europe and following rises on Wall Street and in Asia overnight. Broadly steady crude prices help sentiment, which boost big-ticket mining stocks, which litter the top of the Footsie leader board.
The UK benchmark FTSE 100 index adds around 23 points, or about 0.4%, to 6,153, while midcaps and smaller company indexes are also firmly in positive territory.
In corporate news, asset management heavyweight Schroders (SDR) falls 4.0% to £26.28 as analysts digest yesterday's full-year results. Shares in Schroders fell yesterday too, as results showed a slight shift in Schroders' fund flows, from more lucrative intermediary assets into lower margin institutional money management, which could potentially drag on margins. Analysts at Citigroup's do not like the numbers and downgraded the stock from 'buy' to 'neutral' in a research note out today.
Advertising giant WPP (WPP) gains 0.9% to £15.53 as it reports full year numbers ahead of expectations with reported billings up 3.1% to £47.6 billion and says 2016 has begun 'above budget'. Although the detailed outlook statement accompanying the numbers is pretty gloomy, as we explain exclusively here.
Small cap oil services outfit SeaEnergy (SEA:AIM) dives 50% to 1.8p as it warns weak conditions in the wider oil and gas industry may force it to sell its R2S visual asset management business.
Embattled E&P firm Petroceltic (PCI:AIM) gains 14.2% to 7.77p as 19.2% shareholder Skye Investments, a vehicle for the company's non-executive chairman Rober Adair, says it will reject a 3p per share takeover offer from activist shareholder Worldview Capital - essentially meaning the deal can't go ahead.
High-purity stevia ingredients producer PureCircle (PURE) puts on 2.4p at 334.63p, an update on options granted and exercised by directors the catalyst, building on this week's strong interim results. For more on the PureCircle growth story, click here.
A 228.4% dividend hike sends shopping centre investor Capital & Regional (CAL) 1.6% higher to 64p. The 3.12p a share total dividend for 2015 beat the initial 2.9p guidance and was funded by a 7.3% rise rents in 12 months. Net asset value improved 20% to 72p during the year.
Drug re-developer Oxford Pharmascience’s (OXP:AIM) gains 2.7% to 4.8p on an upbeat update on discussions to find a development partner for some of its assets. The company, which improves existing treatments, also has no short-term funding issues with £23.1 million cash. Pre-tax losses in the year to 31 December 2015 widen to £3.9 million from £3.5 million on rising R&D spend.