London markets make brisk start to Friday trade with blue-chips, buoyed by several big-ticket resources firms and solid gains at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the drugs giant thanks to UBS analyst upgrades. Early deals propel the FTSE 100 index 48 points, or around 0.7%, higher to 6,876, led by miner BHP Billiton (BLT) (up 3.6% at £15.485), closely followed by oil group Tullow Oil (TLW), up 3.5% at 398.5p.
WTI crude trades 1.4% higher at $51.92/bbl, breaking back over the psychologically important $50 mark, while Brent crude rallies 1.3% to $60.05/bbl. Wall St gained overnight, but Asia markets are mixed.
Aero-engines maker Rolls-Royce (RR.) nudges lower to 899.5p after flagging the rising threat of low oil prices on the group's future earnings. The mild warning comes as the group posted an 8% drop in underlying pre-tax profits for 2014 to £1.6 billion and the first revenue declines in a decade.
In corporate news, we said in Shares that Anglo American (AAL) would incur substantial asset impairment charges at full-year results due to commodity price weakness. Today's figures reveal a whopping $3.9 billion impairment figure. Yet the market isn't surprised, instead focusing on bullish comments from the miner that the business is capable of 'very significant' operational improvements, sending the shares up 2.2% to £11.91.
Construction group Kier (KIE) has clinched new contracts worth £177 million, including upgrades to two hospitals in Brimingham and Scarborough. However, the news doews little for the shares, up just a fraction more than 1% to £16.75.
Utilities and blue-chip losers were guided down by United Utilities (UU.), off 1.9% to 954.5p. Sector peer Severn Trent (SVT) is also lower, down 1.3% to £20.295 despite confirming an in-line full year outcome.
Among the day's bigger movers, business energy advisor Utilitywise (UTW:AIM) slumps nearly 10% to 198p as a mixed trading update reaffirms profit and revenue guidance but notes a decline in its order book. Chief executive Geoff Thompson says the order book slowdown is because of extending customer contracts to take advantage of lower energy prices.
Roaring ahead is popular bulletin board stock Fitbug (FITB:AIM) as the wearbales technology minnow posts a 495% hike in second half sales £1.4 million. Investors are clearly impressed by the traction from retail deals with Sainsbury (SBRY) and US chain Target (TGT:NYSE), sending the shares soaring 24% to 7.12p.
Live events microcap Aeorema Communications (AEO:AIM) collapses 24% to 36.5p as it reports falling sales and profits at the half-year stage, and flags ongoing caution in its entertainment end markets.
Resources minnows are also in the shop window. Mariana Resources (MARL:AIM) continued yesterday's winning streak, adding another 19% to 2.53p. The company yesterday confirmed a second exceptional intercept of 82m at 20.4 g/t Gold and 1.94% Copper at Hot Maden Prospect, Eastern Turkey.
Cluff Natural Resources (CLNR:AIM) also rises, albeit not as strongly. The coal methane play has entered into an agreement with US oil services giant Halliburton (HAL:NYSE) with a view to collaborating on the development of Cluff's underground coal gasification and southern North Sea gas assets in the UK. The shares rise 3% to 4.25p.
Energy consultants RPS (RPS) buys Texas-based Klotz for $24.1 million (£15.6 million) to strengthen its engineering, planning and environmental service offering in the US. The shares trade 1.8% higher at 230.9p.