The FTSE 100 has opened 0.44% higher this morning to 7,246.24 following a rally in global stock markets overnight, but the big news has come from the FTSE 250.
Shares in doorstep lender Provident Financial (PFG) have continually climbed in early morning trading and are now up over 10% to 490p after smaller rival Non-Standard Finance (NSF) ended its hostile takeover bid.
Provident’s board of directors said the outcome is in the best interest of shareholders and that it ‘greatly regrets the unnecessary distraction, cost and impact of uncertainty on Provident’s customers and staff’ caused by the bid.
Card Factory (CARD) was also a big gainer this morning, as its shares climbed 4.7% to 202.1p after it gave a more upbeat update to the market for the three months to 30 April, following several profit warnings and weak figures last year.
First quarter sales grew 6.4% and like-for-like sales were up 2.3%. The company expects ‘marginally positive’ growth in like-for-like sales, and full year profit expectations also remain unchanged despite the struggles of the high street.
Meanwhile, a 20% dividend hike for investors in office property firm Workspace (WKP) was not enough to stop its shares drifting down this morning, after a lower bottom line led its share price to fall 0.5% to 899p.
Pre-tax profit for the year through to 31 March fell 19% to £137.3m, down from £170.4m the year before. However, trading profit after interest rose 19% to £72.4m, as rental income rose 16% to £111.0m, and the firm declared a full-year dividend of 32.87p per share, up 20% on-year.
A ‘remarkable milestone’ has led shares in North Sea oil company Hurricane Energy (HUR) to jump 2.7% to 60.6p after first oil was produced from its Lancaster field, to the west of the Shetland Islands.
The news has been described as a ‘tremendous achievement’ for Hurricane and a ‘remarkable milestone’ for the UK oil and gas industry by analysts at WH Ireland, given that it is the first commercial production of oil from a fractured basement field, which is a basement in the sea where oil gathers in natural cracks between impermeable rocks.
The firm’s pre-tax profit in the year to 31 March was up 10% to £14.7m, and it has raised its dividend by 12.8% to 2.99p. It added that its new financial year is trading in line with expectations.
South African mining company Ironveld (IRON) has had a rough morning with its shares dropping 44% to 0.84p after an offtake deal, an agreement to sell a future portion of in this case vanadium, collapsed as it couldn’t agree commercially viable terms.