London stocks made cautious early progress as oil stocks vaulted to the top of the blue-chip winners' ladder on hopes cartel Opec will strike a production cap when it meets in Vienna today, with several pharmas and banks also doing well.
Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was up 16.36 points, or 0.24%, to 6788.36, while FTSE 250 was up 19.83, or 0.11%, to 17,551.9. At about 8.38am, WTI crude was up 1.7% to $46.00/bbl and Brent was up 1.92% to $47.27/bbl. Gold was up 0.01% to $1190.90/oz.
Crude's immediate pricing will to a large extent be sensitive to whatever emerges from the Opec meet, with the market hopeful but also cautious on whether a cap will be reached amid the global glut of the black liquid.
Shell (RDSA) was up 2% to 1988p and BP (BP.) was ahead 1.75% to 450.3p. Also gaining -- unrelated to Opec -- were several pharmas after Shire (SHP), ahead 1.72% to 4802.25p, and Hikma (HIK), up 1.71% to 1697.5p. Smith & Nephew (SN.), up 0.13% to 1129.5p, announces the appointment of Graham Baker as CFO.
A number of US rates-sensitive utilities were firming after Centrica (CNA), up 0.83% to 211.55p, and insurers in the wake of Standard Life (SL.), up 0.78% to 350.5p. Banks were in focus after Bank of England this morning issued its banking-sector hypothetical stress-test results, with CET1 and Leverage ratios in crisp focus.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was performed worst among seven lenders and was forced to produce a new capital plan, which had been accepted. Barclays was required to take action when it fell short in one stress-test hurdle, although its current capital plan was sufficient.
Barclays (BARC) rose 0.64% to 215.63p, HSBC (HSBA) added 0.55% to 635.3p, Lloyds (LLOY) firmed 1.18% to 58.39p, Santander UK (SAN) was flat at 156.5p and Standard Chartered (STAN) appreciated 0.06% to 631.7p. However, RBS (RBS) fell 2.06% to 192.95p.
Also to the downside, multiple miners behind Glencore (GLEN), off 2.99% to 272.93p and several house builders after Barratt (BDEV), lower 1.06% to 471.05p, featured. Overall, about 37 blue chips were lower.BIGGER MOVERS
Sacoil (SAC), down 28.57% to 0.62p, as it advised that its basic loss per share is seen at 6.76 cents to 6.79 cents on Aug. 31. Net asset value per share is seen at between 19.58 cents and 22.39 cents.
African Potash (AFPO) fell 21.05% to 0.07p as it confirmed an application for admission of its shares to the ISDX Growth Market, with Dec. 8 seen as a possible date of admission.
Trans-Siberian Gold (TSG) rose 16.23% to 44.75p as it resolved to pay a special dividend equivalent to 5 US cents a share, totalling about US$5.5 million.
Kodal Minerals (KOD), up 13.79% to 0.08p, said reverse-circulation drilling has started at its Bougouni lithium project in southern Mali.
Tricorn (TCN), up 12.2% to 11.5p, said its US operation, Franklin Tubular Products has secured a Long Term Supply Agreement with one of its key strategic customers. The agreement, initially for 5 years, is expected to generate about $9.6m of revenue from current products.
Keras Resources (KRS), up 11.11% to 0.5p, has completed the initial 600m Klondyke drill programme in Western Australia with visible gold identified in one hole.
Bezant (BZT), up 10.76% to 1.75p, has confirmed that initial gold and platinum has been recovered via its exploration processing plant on site at the FKJ 083 licence area in the Choco Province of Colombia.
Greene King (GNK), down 0.42% to 708.5p, reports record revenue of £1,044.3m for the 24 weeks to 16 October, up 13.8% and the first time it has passed £1bn in H1. Operating profit before exceptional items was £203.7m, up 13.0%.
Vodafone (VOD), down 0.62% to 193.05p, and Singapore's StarHub have agreed to renew their strategic partnership for a further three years, building on a successful relationship that has seen significant collaboration in Singapore and throughout Vodafone's global markets.
President Energy (PPC), up 5.82% to 6.18p, has signed the conditional subscription agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank, for an investment of about $2.8m. The IFC subscription forms part of the proposed US$20.0 million Fundraising.
RPC Group (RPC), up 5.69% to 1059p, has hiked its H1 statutory pretax profit by 79% to £72.5m, from £40.5m. Interim dividend was 6.5p a share, from 4.8p. Revenue was £1.23bn, from £800m.
Zoopla (ZPLA), up 5.72% to 337.25p, has improved its FY pretax profit of £46.2m, from a profit of £33.6m. It reported a good start to the new financial year across both divisions. Revenue was £197.7m, from £107.6m. Zoopla proposed a final dividend of 3.7p a share, from 2.5p.
Other stocks in the news included Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW), Anglo Asian Mining (AAZ), Britvic (BVIC), Northern Petroleum (NOP), LondonMetric (LMP), Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX), AEW UK REIT (AEWU), Metminco Ltd (MNC), Cardiff Property (CDFF), IG Group (IGG) and Aberdeen UK Tracker Trust (AUKT).