UK stocks modestly extend gains in early trade on Monday, once again nudging towards record highs. Having surged 160-odd points on Friday in the wake of the Conservative's shock election victory, the FTSE 100 today edges another 20 points up to 7,067.
Royal Mail (RMG) leads the blue chips up with a 2% gain to 488.55p, while accounting IT supplier Sage (SGE) closely follows, 1.8% higher at 553.5p. Supermarkets are also higher, while housebuilders continue to benefit from investor enthusiasm, with Barratt Developments (BDEV) leading the way with a 1.7% gain to 558.75p.
Funeral services provider Dignity (DTY) adds 4.5p at £20.88 on a positive first quarter trading statement. The running Shares Play of the Week flags a very strong start to 2015, with operating profit up 39% to £35.8 million, as the number of deaths increased 19% to 175,000 against a weak 2014 comparative.
GTS Chemical (GTS:AIM) jumps 15% to 57.5p as it unveils plans to pay its first ever full year dividend. That news comes after a 40% rise in revenues by the Malaysia-based chemicals firm in the first quarter.
Data analysis minnow Arria NLG (NLG:AIM) rallies 10% to 8.25p after signing a development and licensing deal with MeteoGroup UK. They will work to develop a weather report module for two regions in Europe, one in the UK, the other in Germany. However, investors are likely to remain largely sceptical after the company recently lost Shell as a major client.
Organic sales growth slows to zero and margins slide at life sciences and industrial seals distributor Diploma (DPLM), sending shares 4.6% lower to 809p. Acquisitions totalling £35 million in the six months to end-March mean headline earnings per share grow 6% in the half-year pre-tax profits of £26 million. Revenues rose 10% at £163.2 million.
Bargain Booze-to-Wine Rack owner Conviviality Retail (CVR:AIM) gains 2p at 145p on a positive year-end trading update. The franchised off-licence and convenience store play says sales should be up year-on-year despite heavy market discounting and later-than-anticipated new store openings, while EBITDA should be 'slightly ahead' of expectations.
UK tool and equipment hire number two HSS Hire (HSS) opens down slightly as it secures the £11.4 million acquisition of heating, ventilation and air conditioning business All Seasons. Shares trade 0.3% weaker at 193p, still below its February 210p initial public offering price.