UK stocks are on the up in early trade on Monday after better-than-expected Chinese data on retail sales and industrial production over the weekend. Retail sales in the world’s second largest economy jumped 11.2% in November, beating the 11.1% forecast and following a 11% rise in October.
The benchmark FTSE 100 index rallies more than 40 points, or close to 0.7%, although just fails to break back over the 6,000, having dipped below on Friday, at 5,994.
In company news, Astrazeneca (AZN) advances after confirming that it is exploring potential strategic options with biotech company Acerta Pharma. Shares in the Anglo-Swedish drugs giant remain roughly flat at £43.585.
The proposed Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) and BG (BG.) tie-up has overcome one hurdle, securing approval for the mega-merger from China's regulators. But neither share does much, BG showing a 1.3% improvement to 937.9p, while Shell stays flat at £14.65.
Among the bigger movers, training and recruitment firm Tribal (TRB) gets smashed as it warns on profit, unveils a £35 million rights issue and announces plans to move to the UK junior AIM market. The shares collapse 42% to 31.5p.
Superfast broadband networker CityFibre (CFHL:AIM) slumps 18% to 54p as it launches a 25% discounted £80 million share placing designed to pay for the purchase of £90 million worth of infrastructure assets from telco KCOM (KCOM). The latter company's shares rise 2% to 104.63p.
North African hydrocarbons producer Circle Oil (COP:AIM) slumps 21.7% to 2.94p as it warns it may be forced into a debt restructuring due to the collapse in commodity prices.
Alaska-focused oil and gas firm 88 Energy (88E:AIM) - formerly Tangiers Petroleum - ticks up 13% to 0.64p as it requests the suspension of its Aussie listing pending an imminent announcement on its Icewine #1 well.
Telematics kit maker Trakm8 (TRAK:AIM) gains 2.8% to 352.5p as the company extends its relationship with roadside assistance and insurance firm AA (AA.). Trakm8 has supplied telematic systems to the AA for their roadside assistance and recovery vehicles for over four years.
South Africa-based investor Old Mutual (OML) rises 7.6% to 167.3p on the country’s President Jacob Zuma appointing a more experienced finance minister in Pravin Gordhan. The shares dived last week on fears over the country’s economic health when Zuma named the unknown David van Rooyen in the role.
Consumer lender International Personal Finance (IPF) gains 3.9% to 308p as chief executive Gerard Ryan pays £292,000 for 100,000 shares in the business. The transaction was made on 11 December 2015 and reported by the company at 7am this morning. Ryan now owns 541,294 shares in the company, 0.25% of its share capital. IPF has recently been hit by adverse regulatory rulings in Slovakia and Poland, two of its key markets.
Embattled grocer Morrisons (MRW) is marked up 1.7p to 140.7p on the appointment of Greene King (GNK) CEO Rooney Anand, a respected figure in retail and fast moving consumer goods, as non-executive director and Senior Independent Director.
Luxury interior furnishings firm Walker Greenbank (WGB:AIM) is marked down 2.8% to 205.5p as it updates the market following flooding at its Lancaster fabric printing factory. Pre-tax profits will fall around 15% short of market expectations for the year to January and 'trading in the following financial year will also be impacted until full printing capacity is restored'.
Rigid plastic packaging group RPC (RPC) gains 1.5% to 775.5p after announcing the proposed acquisition of plastic closures and dispensing systems manufacturer Global Closure Systems for £470 million. It is RPC's largest acquisition to date and will be funded by a rights issue of 460p per share plus debt. It adds to RPC's existing caps, closures and lids section capabilities.