UK stocks make solid gains in early deals Thursday, matching the strong progress of Wall Street overnight after the Federal Reserve calmed nerves over monetary policy tightening. The benchmark FTSE 100 index is trading roughly 50 points higher, or 0.7%, at 6,389, its third straight trading session of gains, easing investors concerns after the recent sell-off on falling oil prices and other macro worries.

Oil services group Petrofac (PFC) heads the Footsie leader baord early on, up a little more than 4% at 728p, while water supplier United Utilities is the biggest blue-chip loser as the shares go ex-dividend.

Royal Mail (RMG) puts in a decent 2% rise to 402.6p as a government report claims that the company was £180 million underpriced in its stock-market flotation last year. That implies that the 330p per share £2 billion IPO could have been priced at 360p.

Also higher is Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN), up 33.5p to £44.825, after receiving marketing authorisation from the European Commission for its Lynpaza capsules.

Part-nationalised banking group Lloyds Banking (LLOY) falls 0.5% to 74.9p after the government unveiled plans to sell more of its stake in the lender. Investment bank Morgan Stanley (MS:NYSE) will sell down the 24.9% stake in the next six months. The shares will be sold above 73.6p each.

Asset managers Ashmore (ASHM) and Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) open 3% and 2.2% higher and trade at 278p and 418p respectively. Gains across the sector look like they are being driven by yesterday’s dovish comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and a good performance on Asian markets overnight.

The London Stock Exchange (LSE), one of the best performing stocks this year, continues its upward momentum gaining 1.7% to £21.64. In a pre-close update issued this morning, chief executive Xavier Rolet says trading is on the up across all of its major divisions. Average UK equity trading value increased 12% in the year-to-date, he adds.

Volatility in the shares of Hampshire-based government outsourcer Serco (SRP) continues as it rallies close to 5% on no news or broker upgrades. The stock trades at 168p.

Car dealer software supplier Incadea (INCA:AIM) reaches a deal for a takeover by US peer Dealertrack Technologies, sweeping the shares 32% higher to 183.5p. The agreed all-cash 190p per share offer values the business at £121.6 million, three-times higher than the £37.7 million at which it joined AIM in May 2012.

Red tape software suite supplier Ideagen (IDEA:AIM) rallies 11.6% to 38.5p as it raises £17.5 million to buy Gael, a software company supplying the healthcare, manufacturing and aviation sectors. Investors provide strong support for the oversubscribed placing, which was priced at 34p per share, virtually zero discount.

Tanzania focused oil firms Aminex (AEX:AIM) and Solo Oil (SOLO:AIM) are up 16.2% to 2.18p and 44% to 0.66p respectively as the estimated gas in their shared Ruvuma project is increased from 2.3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) to 3.2 tcf. Aminex has 75% of the project and Solo 25%.

Technology design minnow Cyan (CYAN:AIM) jumps 7% to 0.30p as it wins a contract in Brazil for its mesh-based flexible wireless solutions for smart metering.

Livestock auctions operator John Swan (SWJ:AIM) takes off, flying 96.2% higher to £12.75 on news of a possible offer from H&H Group, pitched at £13.50 per share.

Struggling dishwashing tablets-to-toilet cleaner developer McBride (MCB) cheapens half a penny to 76.5p as the appointment of Belgian national Rik De Vos as CEO, replacing incumbent Chris Bull with immediate effect, seemingly unnerves investors.

Value meats retailer Crawshaw (CRAW:AIM) fattens up 12.2% to 50.5p on the appointment of Noel Collett as CEO from March. Collett joins from German discounter Lidl, where he's been an instrumental figure in its UK expansion. Shares highlighted the attractions of the small cap's growth story in today's issue of the magazine.

Rigid plastics packaging supplier RPC (RPC) falls 9.5% to 525p on the listing of 62.6 million shares following a rights issue to partly fund its acquisition of Iceland-based competitor Promens for £307 million. The acquisition, which was approved by shareholders yesterday, is a step forward in RPC's strategy of 'selective consolidation' in Europe.

Cancer-focused biotech ValiRx (VAL:AIM) plummets 25.4% to 0.2p after completing an £800,000 placing to fund R&D.

Robot legs-maker Rex Bionics’ (RXB:AIM) shares collapse 47.6% to 72.5p as sales fall well below expectations for the year to April.

Southeast-based house building minnow Trafalgar New Homes (TRAF:AIM) jumps 6.1% to 1.3p as interim results to September show a significant uptick. Half-year revenue more than doubles to £2.2 million year-on-year.

Property and casualty insurer Catlin (CGL) drops 2.8% to 626.2p as Dublin-based reinsurer XL Group makes a 699p cash and shares offer, valuing the business at some £2.5 billion.

China-focused healthcare company Cathay International (CTI) advances 7.4% to 27p as it renewals a supply agreement worth $4.7 million in each of the next three years.

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Issue Date: 18 Dec 2014