FTSE shrugs off ex-divs to rise as sterling gains

London equities are rising timidly in early deals as sterling gains against the US dollar and in spit of several stocks going ex-dividend.

Not long after the open, the FTSE 100 was up 8.58 points, or 0.12%, to 7122.94, while the FTSE 250 was up 19.75, or 0.1%, to 19,437.5. European equities indices were mostly rising.

Sterling was ahead on the dollar and crude-oil prices were up, however gold and copper were fetching marginally less.

Unilever (ULVR), up 1.29% to 3988.25p, has lifted its Q1 2017 turnover by 6.1% to €13.3bn, and bumped up its quarterly dividend as an expression of confidence in its outlook. Fellow consumer goods outfit Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) rose 0.64% to 7292.5p.

Multi-commodity miners were led by Antofagasta (ANTO), up 0.94% to 830.75p. Rio Tinto (RIO), up 1.39% to 3072.75p, said despite challenging weather conditions at its West Australian and Queensland operations, it has delivered solid production in Q1 2017.

Also rising were several banks after Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY), up 1.15% to 64.39p, and a number of invesment specialists behind Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.), up 0.93% to 1363.5p.

Some supermarkets, airlines and insurers also managed minor gains. Falling but off the pace were oil majors, several pharmas and a number of house builders.

To the downside, Ashtead (AHT) led with a 4.16% fall to 1556.5p, while ex-div Intu (INTU) dropped 4.04% to 275.2p and led commercial property down. Gold-focused miners Fresnillo (FRES), down 1.29% to 1525p, and Randgold (RRS), down 1.22% to 7067.5p, also fell.

Sky (SKY), down 0.08% to 981.25p, has recorded nine-month revenues up 11% in reported terms to £9.64bn - with growth in contributions from UK & Ireland, Germany & Austria and Italy - and said it was on track for the FY.

Stocks ex-dividend today included Balfour Beatty (BBY), Barratt Developments (BDEV), Capital & Counties (CAPC), Man Group (EMG), Mondi (MNDI), Smurfit Kappa (SKG) and Drax (DRX).


Ortac Resources (OTC), up 20% to 3.75p, has agreed to form a JV with a Slovakian company to jointly develop the Sturec Gold Project at Kremnica.

Modern Water (MWG), up 15.19% to 11.38p, has secured a sale of its proprietary Forward Osmosis (FO) technology for seawater desalination to Hangzhou Water Treatment Technology Development Center Co. Ltd in China.

Action Hotels (AHCG) fell 10.87% to 41p after it said it expected to report rises in FY total revenue and adjusted EBITDA, further adding that trading in Q1 2017 was solid.


Cluff Natural Resources (CLNR) rose 11.32% to 2.95p, after stating a scoping study covering two prospects on its Licence P2248 confirmed its long-held conviction that exploring for gas in the Southern North Sea can deliver significant value for shareholders.

Kibo Mining (KIBO) rose 9.76% to 5.62p after signing a strategic MoU with Mbeya Cement Company Ltd to develop a strategic regional collaboration and reciprocal supply of materials agreement.

Hayward Tyler (HAYT), up 9.09% to 54p, expected to report FY revenue of about £63m, in line with revised forecasts. It also expected to report that it was breakeven at the trading EBITDA level for the FY, in line with revised forecasts.

Shearwater (SWG), down 8.72% to 4.45p, has conditionally agreed to acquire the entire issued share capital of SecurEnvoy Ltd, a UK-based provider of multi-factor authentication software solutions, for £20m in cash and shares. It also proposed a placing and open offer.

Go-Ahead Group (GOG), up 6.25% to 1837p, has maintained its FY expectations for both its bus and rail divisions from the update given at the half year results on 28 February. It said it remained in a strong financial position, with good cash generation and a robust balance sheet.

Vipera (VIP), up 4.76% to 5.5p, announced a reorganisation of its customer delivery organisation in late December and now reported completion of the first stage of this with the acquisition of a further 7.12% of the issued share capital of Codd & Date srl, taking its stake to 58.12%.

Man Group (EMG), up 4.43% to 150.8p, said its Funds under Management rose to $88.7bn at the end of March, up from $80.9bn at the end of December.

Other stocks in the news included Debenhams (DEB), Amerisur Resources (AMER), Braveheart Investment (BRH), Diploma (DPLM), Monysupermarket (MONY), Anglo African Oil & Gas (AAOG), Walker Greenbank (WGB), Ebiquity (EBQ), Senior (SNR), John Laing Environmental Assets (JLEN) and Evraz (EVR).