FTSE continues 2017 bull run as house builders rise

London stocks continued their early 2017 bull run with the blue-chip index again rising into uncharted territory on strength in UK house builders.

Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was up 8.63 points, or 0.12%, to 7198.37, while FTSE 250 was up 113.55, or 0.63%, to 18,264.80.

Persimmon (PSN), up 3.76% to 1878p, said revenues for 2016 of £3.14bn were up 8% on the prior year's £2.90bn, with legal completion volumes also rising.

Sector buddies Taylor Wimpey (TW.), up 2.45% to 165.35p, and Barratt (BDEV), ahead 2.4% to 495.5p, were also on the front foot.

Gold-sensitive miners enjoyed a run higher behind Randgold (RRS), up 1.6% to 6502.5p, and Fresnillo (FRE), up 1.41% to 1332.5p.

At 8.33am, gold up 1.1% to $1178.1/oz, with silver and copper also appreciating. WTI crude was down 0.24% to $53.13/bbl and Brent was down 0.35% to $56.26/bbl.

Among the roughly 65 blue-chip stocks rising were multiple pharmas, banks and utilities, although some in these sectors retreated.

Retail-related continued in downside focus. Tesco (TSCO) lost 2.13% to 201.13p, while Next (NXT) faded 1.55% to 4021.5p. Burberry (BRBY) and Sainsbury (SBRY) also softened.

Insurers also took a step south behind RSA (RSA), lower 2.39% to 562.25p and Prudential (PRU), down 0.97% to 1626p.

BIGGER MOVERS

Sigmaroc (SRC) was up 11,588.31% to 45p as it completed the acquisition of Ronez, a subsidiary of Aggregate Industries, part of LafargeHolcim, for £45m in cash. The deal constituted a reverse takeover. The company undertook a 1-for-104 share consolidation, and also raised about £50m.

Aquabounty Technology (ABTU) was up 2874.36% to 580p as announced the 1-for-30 reverse share split of its shares become effective today. The reverse share split has increased the market price and decreased the number of shares in issue.

Touchstar (TST), down 27.96% to 76p, said it will no longer meet expectations for the financial year ending 31 December 2016. Profit before tax in the second half of 2016 is now expected to have been broadly break-even.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Cape (CIU), up 16.53% to 177.13p, expects 2016 results to be ahead of market forecasts and has announced the award of additional work packages on the Chevron-operated Wheatstone natural gas project, near Onslow, Western Australia.

PureCircle (PURE), down 16.18% to 210.38p, said expects gross margin, EBITDA and net profit to be lower compared to H1 FY16.

Churchill China's board now expects the operating performance for 2016 to be ahead of current market estimates and well ahead of 2015. Shares in Churchill China (CHH) were up 10.53% to 845p.

Intercede (IGP), up 7.83% to 62p, said a large US federal government order, which was deferred from the first half, has now been received and invoiced on 30 day payment terms.

Science in Sport (SIS), up 5.59% to 75.5p, said sales rose 30% to £12.24m in the 12 months to 31 December 2016, compared with the same period the previous year (2015: £9.45m).

Plexus (POS), up 4.04% to 80.63p, has been awarded an order for a second well from Masirah Oil Ltd, a BVI-based company majority owned by leading technology driven oil and gas company REX International Holdings Ltd.

IMImobile (IMO), up 2.87% to 161.5p, said its current trading and outlook werein line with management views. it has renewed its contract with its largest customer into 2018, with agreement to launch a number of new digital services and touchpoints.

Costain (COST), up 2.63% to 366.38p, has secured a place on Transport for London's surface transport major projects framework, which covers the delivery, upgrade and maintenance of bridges, tunnels and highways across London. It sees FY results to be in line with forecasts.

Other stocks in the news included Futura Medical (FUM), Johnson Service Group (JSG), Formation Group (FRM), IronRidge Resources (IRR), Zytronic (ZYT), Sound Energy (SOU), Central Asia Metals (CAML) and IG Design Group (IGR).