FTSE gains amid 'hard' Brexit fears, sterling weakness

London equities are again out of the blocks on a positive note, albeit rather mild and it remains to be seen whether the FTSE 100 will hit another all-time closing high as 'hard' Brexit fears continue and sterling suffers.

Not long after the open, FTSE 100 was up 14.08 points, or 0.19%, to 7251.85, while FTSE 250 was up 7.58, or 0.04%, to 18,387.20. At 8.34am, WTI crude was up 0.6% to $52.27/bbl and Brent was up 0.56% to $55.25/bbl. Gold was up 0.01% to $1185/oz, with silver down and copper up.

Supermarkets were leading. Tesco (TSCO) rose 3.43% to 207.85p, and Morrisons (MRW) adde 3.24% to 245.1p. Morrisons said that, in the nine weeks to Jan. 1, LFL sales excluding fuel were up 2.9% (up 4.7% including fuel), its strongest performance for seven years. Total sales rose 2.0% excluding fuel, or 4.0% including fuel, despite the continuing impact of store closures.

Also firming were multiple miners in the wake of Anglo American (AAL), ahead 3.31% to 1192.75p, and Rio Tinto (RIO), up 2.79% to 3220.5p. Gold-touchy metals burrowers rose after Fresnillo (FRES), up 1.46% to 1390p, and Randgold (RRS), up 0.9% to 6720p.

A number of house builders, leisure, some commercial property, high-street retail and pharmas figured among the roughly 58 blue chips advancing. To the downside, financials were in crisp focus after Prudential (PRU), lower 2.09% to 1566.5p, and other insurers.

Banks also suffered behind Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), shedding 1.76% to 223.4p. Multiple utilities were retreating, with tobacco and airline stocks also on the back foot.

BIGGER MOVERS

Caribbean Investment Holdings (CIHL), up 63.16% to 15.5p, and The Belize Bank have achieved a win in a lengthy process to achieve judicial recognition in the US of an international arbitration award rendered in London in August 2009 against the Government of Belize.

Central Rand Gold (CRND), up 27.91% to 1.38p, has agreed a $1m loan with Jia Bang Wang. The loan will be provided in two tranches, with the first tranche of US$500 000 having already been received by the company and a further US$500 000 becoming available on or by 31 March.

K3 Business Technology (KBT), down 22.71% to 236.5p, has warned that that EBITDA (pre-exceptional items) for the full year will be approximately £3.5m less than the originally anticipated.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

CloudCall (CALL), up 17.83% to 76p, said that as a result of its strategy to focus on key CRM channel partners in order to accelerate product penetration, it expects to report revenue growth in 2016 of about 50% over the prior year to about £4.9m, at circa 78% gross margin.

Roxi Petroleum (RXP), down 15.29% to 9p, said the recent drilling successes at 141 and potentially at 142 in the BNG Contract Area are further indications of the potential high value of the MJF structure.

Serica Energy (SQZ), up 13.18% to 18.25p, said a strong second-half operational performance from the Erskine field, boosted by much improved commodity prices and favourable exchange rate movements, has helped the company after the six-month Erskine shut-in earlier in the year.

Somero Enterprises (SOM), up 8.28% to 235.5p, said due to a strong finish to 2016, an continued margin improvement, the company expects to report revenue slightly ahead of current market expectations and to report EBITDA comfortably ahead of current market expectations for the full year.

Proxama (PROX), up 6.25% to 0.43p, said that as part of a wider customer information trial, its beacons have been installed on a number of Chiltern Railways' Birmingham to London mainline trains.

Just Eat (JE.), down 5.53% to 550.75p, saw like-for-like order growth of 36% in the year to the end of December and reported growth of 42%. Order growth in the UK was 31%.

Games Workshop (GAW), up 5.02% to 785p, reports sales and profit growth across all channels inthe six months to 27 November. BMR Group (BMR), up 5.77% to 6.88p, is encouraged by results of the first phase Kashitu geological exploration programme.

Personal Group (PGH), down 6.12% to 345p, said it encouraging to see the underlying core business continuing to perform well in the face of some challenges in 2016. Tlou Energy (TLOU), up 5.08% to 7.75p, has received a detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) from the Government of Botswana to develop up to 100MW of CBM power in Botswana.

Gocompare.com (GOCO), up 7.38% to 72.75p, has reported good progress in 2016 with revenue of about £142.0m, up 19% on 2015 and in line with guidance. Adjusted operating profit is expected to be about £30m, representing growth of 30% over 2015 and at the top end of guidance.

Other stocks in the news included Big Yellow (BYG), Majestic Wine (WINE), Nichols (NICL), H&T Group (HAT), Impax Asset Management (IPX), Playtech (PTEC), Telit (TCM), Harworth (HWG), Science in Sport (SIS), Regency Mines (RGM), Futura Medical (FUM), Phoenix (PHNX), ServicePower (SVR), Carr's (CARR), Everyman Media (EMAN), Northern Petroleum (NOP), GAN (GAN), Petro Matad (MATD), Abcam (ABC) and Hutchison China MediTech (HCM).