FTSE moderately ahead prior to UK earnings data

London shares are trading moderately higher so far, with sterling mildly ahead, gold a little firmer and oil up. The market is looking to UK earnings growth data due to be issued mid-morning.

A short while after the open, the FTSE 100 was up 34.53 points, or 0.47%, to 7400.03, and the FTSE 250 was up 102.36, or 0.53%, to 19,408.9. Oil prices were mildly ahead after US industry data showed a fall in US inventories last week.

Markets are cautious at present, digesting US-North Korea and US-Russia tensions, along with uncertainties surrounding Brexit and the French elections among a host of wider geopolitical concerns.

The FTSE 100 was led up by GKN (GKN), up 1.57% to 358.45p, and was followed by Rolls-Royce (RR.), up 1.33% to 821.25p, and then Diageo (DGE), up 1.28% to 2320.25p. Insurers gained after Old Mutual (OML), up 1.1% to 193.6p, and pharmas rose behind Hikma (HIK), up 0.89% to 1936p.

Banks, oil majors, financials, house builders and commercial property were all ahead, as were miners besides Randgold (RRS), down 0.96% to 7507.5p, and Fresnillo (FRES), down 0.36% to 1646p.

BHP Billiton (BLT), up 0.02% to 1314.75p, has warned that all shareholders would lose if it replaced its dual listed company structure with a single UK incorporated company as proposed by Elliott Associates and Elliott International.

Tesco (TSCO), down 1.8% to 192.08p and leading blue-chip fallers, posted a lower FY pretax profit, after a £235m exceptional charge linked to its accounting scandal last year. Its pre-tax earnings for the period came in at £145m, from £202m. Other supermarkets fell, too.

National Grid (NG.), down 0.17% to 1029.25p, said it expected headline full-year results to reflect higher favourable timing in both its UK and US businesses.

BIGGER MOVERS

Thalassa (THAL) fell 14.5% to 56p as it swung to a FY pretax profit of $2.5m, from a loss of $11.8m, despite a fall in revenue. In an update on Autonomous Robotics Ltd, Thalassa said it would continue to provide certain funding, although external investment would be sought.

Westmount Energy (WTE) fell 11.54% to 5.75p after announcing a conditional subscription to raise £200,000 in conjunction with an Open Offer to raise up to £564,258.35.

Serabi Gold (SRB), up 10% to 5.5p, has reported Q1 production of 9861 oz of gold, which was both on budget and in line with production guidance. Mine production from both the Palito and Sao Chico orebodies showed steady progress, it said.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

D4t4 Solutions (D4T4), up 9.02% to 145p, expected its FY profits — excluding the FX gain — to be ahead of current market forecasts. Tricorn Group (TCN), up 8.77% to 15.5p, sees its FY adjusted pretax profit to be ahead of market expectations.

PageGroup (PAGE), up 7.42% to 476.85p, said its Q1 gross profit rose to £170.3m, up 19.7% from £142.2m in the same period a year ago. Contributions to group gross profit were up strongly from EMEA, Asia Pacific and the Americas, but down a little from the UK.

Norcros (NXR) rose 7.24% to 163 as it said FY group underlying operating profit was expected to be in line with directors’ expectations, reflecting a robust performance and demonstrating the group’s resilience.

IronRidge Resources (IRR), down 6.91% to 43.75p, said its partnership with Enchi Proci SARL for the Gboguhue licence application was now unconditional.

RWS Holdings (RWS), up 6.73% to 362.88p, has delivered a strong H1 performance with directors expecting it to achieve record revenues of not less than £76m, from £56.9m a year ago. Underlying adjusted pretax profit was seen to be at least £19m in H1, from £13.9m.

Countryside Properties (CSP), up 5.14% to 275.25p, has seen excellent growth in both divisions in H1. Completions for the period were up 31% to 1437 homes, and sales rates rose to 0.89, from 0.79.

CyanConnode (CYAN), up 2.63% to 0.2p, has received a purchase order worth about $150,000 for its smart metering software solution from Innologix Consulting Pvt Ltd.

RhthymOne (RTHM), up 2.26% to 45.25p, said its FY revenue rose 5% to $175m, from $166.7m. The fundamental re-structuring of the business, which began two years ago, was now complete.

Other stocks in the news included Dunelm (DNLM), Carr’s (CARR), Sports Direct International (SPD), WS Atkins (ATK), Carillion (CLLN), WH Smith (SMWH) and Pan African Resources (PAF).

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