UK stocks rally strongly in early trade on Tuesday bolstered by optimism surrounding Greece’s proposed debt plan, while rising commodity prices give resource shares a boost. The benchmark FTSE 100 index shoots 82 points higher, or 1.2%, to 6,865, with oil and mining sectors leading the charge.
The new government in Greece is hoping to push through a debt swaps deal in exchange for a new wave of growth-linked bonds rather than calling for a write-off of its €315 billion of foreign debt. The Greek's new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is calling the plan 'smart debt engineering.'
Better than expected underlying earnings and big capex reductions (20% below previous guidance) help lift BP (BP.) 4.1% to 455.6p despite a $3.6 billion impairment charge pushing the group into a loss for the fourth quarter. The shares are also supported by continuing strength in crude oil prices with the European benchmark Brent up a further 1.9% overnight to $55 per barrel.
This also supports BG (BG.) which - despite a massive $8.9 billion write off - appears to win the market's favour with profit excluding exceptional items such as disposals and impairments of $915 million, down from $1.14 billion a year earlier, but ahead of analyst consensus of $576 million. The stock is up 1.1% to 944.2p.
Online grocery service Ocado (OCDO) rises 2.62% to 426.4p after posting its first ever profit. During the financial year, Ocado grew ahead of the broader online grocery market and helped Morrisons (MRW) launch its online groceries business.
Family-controlled fashion-to-foods conglomerate Associated British Foods (ABF) cheapens 4p to £31.10 on news interims will include a £98 million non-cash charge. The Primark-owner is writing down the value of its investment in Vivergo Fuels, its wheat-fed bioethanol joint venture with BP and DuPont, due to ongoing falls in crude oil and bioethanol prices as well as euro weakness versus sterling.
Office re-vamp firm ISG (ISG:AIM) continues to collapse, down another 15% to 221p, as investors continue to dump stock. London’s largest office fit-out provider revealed yesterday it would set aside £24 million to absorb losses in its construction division. The shares have crashed by more than 38% in two days.
Outsourcer Interserve (IRV) adds 3.5% to 554p as some cheer returns to the oil sector. Investors have been fretting about its exposure to the oil and gas sector in the Middle East.T
Temporary power producer APR Energy (APR) cements 115 megawatts of extensions to power generation contracts in Indonesia. Shares gain 3.9% to 180p.
Broadband and calls supplier TalkTalk (TALK) hits the skids as quad-play progress is offset by doubts over long-term profit margin goals. The shares fall 3.6% to 306.8p as the group reports third quarter revenue up 4.2% to £449 million but a 15.3% earnings before interest, tax, depreciation amortisation (EBITDA) margin is way down on 16% to 17% targets. As flagged by Shares in November, this increases doubts that its long-run 25% goal remains out of reach.
Solo Oil (SOLO:AIM) has now signed the Asset Purchase Agreement with Aminex (AEX:AIM) for the first 6.5% interest in the Kiliwani North Development Licence at a total consideration of $3.5 million. Its shares jump 9.4% to 0.58p.
Amid strength across the oil sector - oil services play Hunting (HTG) stands out - up 9.6% to 458p as Nomura upgrades its negative stance to neutral.
Among other big movers, energy gap supply business Plutus PowerGen (PPG:AIM) leaps 26.3% to 1.2p as it seals a £34 million non-asset finance deal. This will provide investment for the company's 200MW of flexible power generation sites plans.
Dual-fuel engines developer Clean Air Power (CAP:AIM) rises 10.2% to 1.13p as it seals a $1 million contract extension to deliver a MicroPilot demonstration vehicle for a global truck manufacturer for the South East Asian market.
Staff and deliveries roster technology supplier ServicePower (SVR:AIM) jumps nearly 8% to 5.25p as it secures two new UK contracts worth an anticipated £750,000 over three years.
A disappointing third quarter from marketing firm Creston's (CRE) Health division leads to slowing revenue growth and sours the market's view on the stock, down 9.5% to 114p. The media agency blames project delays and client budget cuts.
Investors tuck into African agribusiness Zambeef Products (ZAM:AIM), up 7% to 9.63p, as it announces the sale of edible oil and soybean meal producing division Zamanita for $25.7 million in cash. The deal will allow Zambeef to focus on its core business, reduces its exposure to currency and commodity price risk and strengthens the balance sheet.
Chinese marine snacks-to-frozen seafood supplier Aquatic Foods (AFG:AIM) nudges 1.5p higher to 71.5p on its AIM debut. The £80 million company raised £9.3 million at 70p per share to expand production and invest in innovation and distribution across its home market.