FTSE mildly ahead as market looks to UK CPI, PPI

London shares began on a mildly positive note with traders keeping their powder dry ahead of a string of UK's latest consumer-price (CPI) and producer-price (PPI) indices being released mid-morning.

Inflation has been in focus among Bank of England policymakers, which stayed its benchmark interest rate last week, and would thus be closely scrutinised by the market for its future implications on central bank monetary policy.

Soon after trading opened, FTSE 100 was up 7.14 points, or 0.1%, to 7436.95, while FTSE 250 was ahead 28.59, or 0.15%, to 19,180.4. At 8.39am, WTI crude was up 0.66% to $48.55/bbl and Brent was ahead 0.95% to $52.11/bbl. Gold was down 0.44% to $1228.6/oz, with silver down similarly and copper firmly southbound.

Oily majors Shell (RDSA), up 0.84% to 2133.75p, and BP (BP.), ahead 0.52% to 463.5p, were in focus as crude prices firmed. Banks were also ahead, with Barclays (BARC) adding 1.13% to 230.88p and Lloyds (LLOY), up 0.69% to 69.78p.

Some supermarkets followed Marks & Spencer (MKS), up 0.44% to 329.35p, higher, but other such as Sainsbury (SBRY), down 0.2% to 273.75p, followed. Several utilities firmed in the wake of Centrica (CNA), rising 0.68% to 215.65p. Insurers and housebuilders were gaining, as were a number of commercial property outfits, but by no means all.

The blue-chip downside was guided by miners, with Rio Tinto (RIO) down 1.38% to 3422p and BHP Billiton (BLT) down 1.14% to 1321.25p. More in the sector followed. Sectors straddling the up-down divide included high-street retailers.

BIGGER MOVERS

Flowgroup (FLOW) was up 32.26% to 5.12p on stating it had selected a preferred bidder for Flow Energy Ltd and had entered an exclusivity agreement. An announcement was expected in coming weeks, although there were no guarantees a deal would be reached.

Orogen Gold (ORE), down 29.03% to 0.01p, has undertaken a placing, open offer, and its proposing a capital reorganisation as it changes of name and strategy. It had completed a review of its operations and concluded that it was no longer in shareholders' interests to continue to provide financial support for the company's mineral exploration activities.

Keras Resources (KRS) fell 31.25% to 0.28p as it announced plans for the proposed listing of its Australian gold assets on the ASX. It had entered a binding agreement whereby ASX-listed Pharmanet Group Ltd would acquire 100% of Keras (Gold) Australia Pty Ltd.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Bahamas Petroelum (BPC) firmed 15.29% to 1.47p after its said the Government of The Bahamas had extended a licence to begin work on an initial exploration well to April 2018. The company remained in talks with various potential funding and operating partners.

IQE (IQE) fell 14.37% to 46.88p after turning in a FY pretax profit of £19.0m, from a profit of £19.4m, and said it was confident of achieving expectations for the FY.

JKX Oil & Gas (JKX) shed 12.22% to 19.75p on news it had received a notice by Ukraine's Ministry of Justice to the High Court of the UK naming JKX as a defendant in an application seeking to set aside the recent Uncitral arbitration award against Ukraine and in favour of JKX. The company believed the application to be without merit and frivolous.

Premier African Minerals (PREM), up 8.7% to 0.63p, said assay results from the Zulu Lithium and Tantalum Project had identified a significant width and well mineralised central zone within the Zulu deposit.

Augean (AUG), down 6.09% to 54p, said pretax profits from continuing operations and excluding exceptional items rose 16% to £7.0m in the year to end-December. Total revenue increased 25% to £76.0m and EBITDA rose 17% to £14.1m.

Vectura (VEC), up 4.32% to 164.2p, has posted a pretax loss of £40.1m for the nine months to Dec. 31, 2016, down from the loss of £1.9m for the 12 months to March 31, 2016. The result was impacted by £64.0m for the amortisation of intangibles, versus £18.8m a year earlier.

888 (888), up 3.69% to 242.63p, said its revenue rose 13% to $520.8m in the year to end-December. Adjusted EBITDA rose 12% to $90.2m. Total dividend for the year was 19.4c a share, from 15.5c.

Other stocks in the news included EnQuest (ENQ), Billington (BILN), Bellway (BWY), Wynnstay (WYN), Fever-Tree (FEVR), Pittards (PTD), XLMedia (XLM), Judges Scientific (JDG), Mporium Group (MPM) and Accesso Technology (ACSO).