London markets nudge a fraction higher thanks to forecast-beating results from asset manager Standard Life (SL.), although there's precious little else to draw the interest of investors on an otherwise quiet Friday. Overnight, Wall Street was mixed, while Asian markets remain firme.

In early deals the FTSE 100 index is 4.3 point higher, just 0.06%, at 6,893, just 1.6% off the psychologically important 7,000 mark, although the FTSE 250 edges 14 point lower to 17,036, while WTI crude rises 0.5% to $51.43/bbl and Brent is largely flat at $60.27/bbl.

Wealth manager Standard Life jumps to the top of the Footsie leader board on Friday, the shares rallying 3.2% to 421.9p, as it unveils an impressive 19% jump in operating pre-tax profits to £604 million in 2014. Client cash increased 38% to £296.6 billion following its move away from insurance and towards asset management.

Tobacco, retail, utility and financial sectors were all in southbound focus. Hammerson (HMSO) reversed 1.7% to 661p, Imperial Tobacco (IMT) falls 0.65% to £30.67, Morrisons (MRW) sheds 0.6% to 186.05p, and Old Mutual (OML) fades by 0.3% to 217.7p.

Oil stocks respond to a minor rebound in the price of crude. Cairn Energy (CNE) adds 4.5% to 206.65p, while Petrofac (PFC), Tullow Oil (TLW) and others follow. Miners firm too. Kaz Minerals (KAZ) adds 0.7% to 254.2p, followed by Anglo American (AAL), up 0.6% to £12.30.

Outsourcer Serco (SRP) gains 6.6% to 214p as analysts at investment Credit Suisse raise the stock from ‘sell’ to ‘hold’ and up their price target to 208p. The note says the planned disposal of Serco’s business process outsourcing may reduce the scale of a mooted £500 million rights issue.

Events telco supplier Pinnacle Technology (PINN:AIM) collapses 18% to 6.63p despite narrowing losses by 20% to £1.94 million last year. But with revenues also down sharply, investors have ben left disappointed.

Tri-Star Resources (TSTR:AIM), up 37% to 0.24p, says Strategic & Precious Metals Processing, in which it owns 40%, has received the Provisional Environmental Permit from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs for the OAR project and the SPMP leased site in the Sohar Free Trade Zone.

UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) subsidiary UKOG (GB) has agreed with Magellan Petroleum (UK) to acquire its 40% interest in onshore licence PEDL 126 (Markwells Wood) in the Weald Basin for a nominal amount of £1, subject to normal regulatory approvals. It rose 10% to 0.59p.

Earnings per share (EPS) grow 14% at components distributor Essentra (ESNT) as it beats market expectations in a full year results update. It also buys an Australian distributor of specialist plastics, though financial details were not disclosed. The shares trade 2.2% higher at 904p.

Bank of Georgia (BEGO) edges 1.7% to £21.76 higher on record GEL276.5 million (£82.5 million) pre-tax profits in 2014. This was a 12.8% rise in 12 months and has helped fuel a recommended 5% rise in annual dividend to GEL2.1 a share.

Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG:AIM) is pleased auditors have confirmed its existing strong reserve base both at the Chinarevskoye field and the additional licenses acquired in 2013. Its shares rise 2.9% to 600p.

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Issue Date: 20 Feb 2015