Greece debt talks once again dominate market mood on Thursday, although investors are pushing London markets into modestly positive territory. Despite a fairly quiet day for corporate news the FTSE 100 index nudges around 15 points higher to 6,846, while midcaps make further gains too, the FTSE 250 up around 0.5% at 18,119.
Royal Mail (RMG) falls 3.5% to 499.15p on news the government has sold about half of its 30% stake to institutional investors at 500p a share via an accelerated bookbuilding process. Proceeds from the sale of the placing shares would be £750 million.
Argos-to-Homebase owner Home Retail (HOME) regains 2.35% at 163.25p as investors look to the positives in a mixed first quarter trading statement. Amid weak TV, tablet and computer sales, Argos' like-for-like sales fell 3.9%, though like-for-likes were better-than-expected at Homebase, up 5.4%, and CEO John Walden guides towards a stronger second half.
Beaten-down by a string of profit warnings, luxury bag maker Mulberry (MUL:AIM) is lifted 9p higher to 914p after revealing a slump in annual profit that's less bad than feared. Guided by new CEO Thierry Andretta and with a new and splendidly-named creative director Johnny Coca joining next month, Mulberry's turnaround is beginning to bear fruit. Sales are back on a positive trajectory, up 15% like-for-like in the opening ten weeks of the new financial year.
Among the bigger movers, AIM-quoted oil firm Northern Petroleum (NOP:AIM) is up 7.7% to 9.29p as it announces production has restarted output from its acreage in north west Alberta, Canada. Well 100/16-19 will produce between 75 and 100 barrels of oil per day and the company is set to receive $30 per barrel in netback (what's left once all costs and royalty fees are substracted) assuming an West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil price of $55 per barrel.
Broadcast services company Avesco (AVS:AIM) soars 23% to 173.5p as it jumps into the black at the half year stage. The company posts interim pre-tax profit of £4.6 million, a big improvement over the previous year's £1.1 million loss. The payout is also hiked by a third to 2p a share.
Elsewhere, the publication of an independent reserves report reveals Ophir Energy (OPHR) has proved and probable reserves and contingent resources of more than 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent. The counter ticks up 1.6% to 130.6p as chief operating officer Bill Higgs notes this resource base 'is one of the largest in the European mid-cap sector'.
European real estate investor First Property (FPO:AIM) gains 8.7% to 43.7p on pre-tax profits rising 22.4% to £8 million in the year to the end of March, the result of six new investments. The dividend increased 20.5% to 1.35p a share.
Mobile gaming company Nektan (NKTN:AIM) climbs 5.5% to 172.5p on news it has been granted a software and gaming licence in the UK, Europe's largest gaming market. Nektan had been operating under a Gibraltar continuation licence since the regulation was introduced in late 2014.