UK markets extend gains in early trade Friday having once again closed above the important 7,000 mark on Thursday. Strong housebuilding figures and firm pharma stocks provide much of the lift, with Shire (SHP) heading the blue-chip leader board with a 4.6% gain to £56.70, while Indivior (INDV), demerged from Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) is among the bigger midcap movers.
The UK’s third largest drug-maker Shire jumps 4.6% to £56.70 on US regulator the FDA agreeing to fast-track its decision on approving dry eye disease treatment Lifitegrast. A decision will be made by October and if positive it would be the first such treatment on the market.
Financial stocks contributed to the positive bias, but were generally well off the tepid pace. ICAP (IAP) rises 1% to 555.5p and Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) adds a similarly to £12.22. Insurers followed Aviva's (AV.) hike 1% nudge higher to 554.5p.
Mining group Vedanta (VED) stays largely flat at 540.75p despite reporting lower full year oil and gas production due to the planned maintenance shutdowns in Q2. Average daily gross operated production for 2015 was 211,671 boepd, down 3% from 218,651 boepd. However, other miners softened. Anglo American (AAL) shedding 1.3% to £10.11, with Kaz Minerals (KAZ), Rio Tinto (RIO) and Glencore (GLEN) trailing.
Among the bigger movers, crowdsourcing platform Blur (BLUR:AIM) collapses again on another revenue disappointment. The shares slump 33% to 53.5p as the company warns that recognised revenue will be substantially lower than previously expected for 2015 as old projects fail to live up to hopes.
Media agency Huntsworth (HNT) is another big loser, down 24% to 34.13p as pre-tax profits slump by a fifth and operating profit margins get squeezed.
On the plus side, motion capture kit designer OMG (OMG:AIM) finally seems to be getting the need to focus and has sold its 2d3 business in a $25 million deal. Investors like the move, the shares jumping 16% to 47.75p.
Falkland Islands Holdings (FKL:AIM), which runs several businesses on the south Atlantic islands, slides nearly 9% to 257.5p as it warns that profits this year are unlikely to match last year's record levels.
Elsewhere, retailer Bonmarche (BON) is surprisingly down 5% to 261.5p despite saying that it is satisfied with the current year's performance and anticipates the outcome will be in line with expectations, implying 4% sales rise.
Recruiter Hays (HAS) falls 2.3% to 160p on slowing growth across its global markets. Like-for-like net fee income growth fell to 8% in the first quarter of 2015, down from 11% in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Majestic Wines (MJW) slides 4.7% to 302.63p as it unveils plans to acquire Naked Wines for up to £70 million. The deal will be funded by £50m cash from new debt facilities, plus up to £20 million contingent consideration in Majestic shares. Naked Wines' CEO will take the top job in the enlarged Majestic.