FTSE creeps higher on comm. property, pharmas

London stocks have taken a cautious step higher in early deals with commercial property prominent among the blue-chip pack, followed by pharmas, as global investors continue to take stock of political uncertainties.

Land Securities (LAND) added 1.41% to 1040.5p, while Hammerson (HMSO) gained 1.33% to 570p and British Land (BLND) firmed 1.21% to 608.25p. More chased, as did US rates-sensitive utilities behind National Grid (NG.), up 1.2% to 969.2p, and Centrica (CNA), up 0.78% to 231.8p.

Pharmas mostly rose after Glaxosmithkline (GSK), up 0.91% to 1576.75p. However, Smith & Nephew (SN.) fell 4.29% to 1149.5p as it booked a FY pretax profit of $1.06bn, from $559m, but failed to meet management's views. It noted tough market conditions in China and the Gulf states.

Also up were several but not all financials, led by Schroders (SDR), up 0.77% to 3015p, and Prudential (PRU), up 0.59% to 1576.75p. Aviva (AV.), up 0.69% to 497.4p, has sold its 50% shareholding in life insurance joint venture Antarius to Sogecap for £425m.

Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was up 8.24 points, or 0.11%, to 7197.06, while FTSE 250 was up 3.87, or 0.02%, to 18,609.9. At 8.34am, WTI crude was up 0.88% to $52.80/bbl and Brent was up 0.87% to $55.60/bbl. Gold rose 0.31% to $1243.3/oz, with silver also up and copper down.

BHP Billiton (BLT), up 0.04% to 1342p, has approved expenditure of $2.2bn for its share of the development of the Mad Dog phase 2 project in the Gulf of Mexico. It holds a 23.9% participating interest in the Mad Dog field.

To the blue-chip downside, miners were more prevalent. Anglo American (AAL) lost 3.19% to 1288.5p, while Antofagasta (ANTO) shed 1.79% to 821.5p. Key financials falling included banks and insurers. House builders and leisure stocks were notable to the downside, too.


Innovaderma (IDP) rose 18.58% to 150p as it swung to an H1 pretax loss of £0.154m, from a profit of £0.004m, on one-off exceptional listing costs and strategic initiatives to expand and scale the business. Its revenue soared 125.5% to £3.2m.

Wishbone Gold (WSBN) fell 18.18% to 0.68p as it noted an overall transformative and successful year, but noted that while volumes were good in 2016, margins were pressured due to India's change in import rules.

Hvivo (HVO) dropped 17.87% to 190.13p as it said Phase IIa studies PrEP-CS-002 and PrEP-CS-003 did not meet their primary endpoints, but provided valuable insights for PrEP-001 and build on the profile of the drug following the previously reported positive proof of concept trials in flu and the common cold.


Northbridge Industrial Services (NBI), down 6.69% to 125.5p, saw the result for 2016 broadly in line with management views, but issued cautious commentary on the impact of oil's pricing and Brexit-hit sterling.

Thomas Cook (TCG), down 6.08% to 86.45p, has made a solid start to FY 2017 with Q1 revenue rising to £1.62bn, from £1.41bn. Its loss from operations for the three-month period was £67m, from £78m.

Ashmore (ASHM), up 5.97% to 338.05p, said its H1 assets under management stood at US$52.2bn at end-December 2016, down from $52.6bn at end-June. Pretax profit rose 94% to £121.5m. Interim dividend per share was held at 4.55p.

Redx Pharma (REDX), down 3.61% to 40p, has proposed raising £12m gross via a placing of up to 20.5m shares and a subscription of 11.5m shares by Lanstead Capital L.P., both at 37.5p a share. Net proceeds would allow Redx to continue to progress its drug pipeline.

Pennon (PNN), up 2.94% to 840.5p, said directors considered the company would deliver trading performance consistent with its expectations and prior guidance.

Dairy Crest (DCG), down 1.99% to 604.25p, said its FY outlook remained in line with its expectations. Key brands continued to perform well in the nine months to end-December 2016.

Henderson Group (HGG), down 1.66% to 213.3p, said assets under management rose to £101.0bn in the year to end-December, up 10% on last time. Underlying Pretax profit fell to £212.7m, down from £220.0m. Total dividend for the year would be 10.5p a share.

RPC Group (RPC), up 1.51% to 1075p, has announced the proposed buy of Letica Group and a fully underwritten rights issue to raise gross proceeds of about £552m.

Other stocks in the news included Enterprise Inns (ETI), Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft (CZB), Plus500 (PLUS), DFS Furniture (DFS), Frutarom Industries (FRUT) and Scisys (SSY).