FTSE up on financials, comm. property, aided by US

London equities closed on a moderately positive note, helped in part by early gains on Wall St, in a session that has overall been laden with traders sensitive to political risk in Europe, UK and the US.

At the close, FTSE 100 was up 40.68 points, or 0.57%, to 7229.50, while the FTSE 250 finished up 21.52, or 0.12, at 18,627.6.

Financials, commercial property, pharmas and airlines were prominent among blue-chip risers.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) rose 2.515 to 233.1p, while Astrazeneca (AZN) firmed 2.02% to 4575p. Land Securities (LAND) added 1.85% to 1045p. More in these sectors chased.

Aviva (AV.), up 1.21% to 500p, has sold its 50% shareholding in life insurance joint venture Antarius to Sogecap for £425m.

Smith & Nephew (SN.) fell 0.17% to 1199p as it booked a FY pretax profit of $1.06bn, from $559m, but failed to meet management's views.

Also up were International Consolidated Airlines (IAG), by 1.77% to 488.8p, and easyJet (EZJ), yp 1.77% to 950p. Blue-chip gainers numbered a little more than 60.

At 4.39pm, WTI crude was up 0.9% to $52.81/bbl and Brent was up 0.54% to $55.42/bbl. Gold was down 0.35% to $1235.20/oz, with silver and copper also softer.

To the downside, the story was largely one led by miners. Anglo American (AAL) faltered 2.67% to 1295.5p, while Fresnillo (FRES) flopped 2.55% to 1529p. Their sector buddies followed.

BHP Billiton (BLT), down 0.24% to 1338.5p, approved expenditure of $2.2bn for its share of the development of the Mad Dog phase 2 project in the Gulf of Mexico. It has a 23.9% participating interest in the Mad Dog field.

House builders also figured southbound, led by Taylor Wimpey (TW.), off 1.36% to 173.8p. Utilities were mixed, as was the wider retail sector. Oil made moderate gains alongside crude.


The US Department of Labor said initial claims for the week to 4 February fell to 234k, a decrease of 12k from the previous week's unrevised level.

Germany's trade surplus for 2016 rose to a record €252.9bn, the country's Federal Statistics Office said. This print beat a previous high of €244.3bn.


Baron Oil (BOIL), up 33.33% to 0.5p, expected the farm-in deal for Block Z-34 in Peru by Union Oil & Gas Group to be completed within 10 days.

Innovaderma (IDP) rose 29.25% to 155p 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.

Hvivo (HVO) dropped 17.93% to 190p 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.


Wishbone Gold (WSBN) fell 15.15% to 0.7p 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.

RPC (RPC), down 5.76% to 998p, has proposed buying Letica Group and a fully underwritten rights issue to raise gross proceeds of about £552m. Guscio (GUSC), down 4.35% to 2.75p, said the process to complete the change of its name to GoTech Group has been completed. It would, from 8am tomorrow, have the ticker GOT.

Thomas Cook (TCG), down 7.71% to 84.95p, 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.

Northbridge Industrial Services (NBI), down 8.18% to 123.5p, 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.

Ashmore (ASHM), up 5.02% to 335p, 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.

Pennon (PNN), up 3.49% to 845p, said directors considered the company would deliver trading performance consistent with its expectations and prior guidance.

Redx Pharma (REDX), down 4.82% to 39.5p, 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.

Henderson Group (HGG), down 1.84% to 212.9p, 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.

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