London shares began Friday on a positive note with blue-chip gains led by BT Group, following an Openreach agreement with Ofcom, along with miners and oilies as traders sniffed buying opportunities after recent weakness.
Not all that long after the open, FTSE 100 was up 29.13 points, or 0.4%, to 7344.09, while the FTSE 250 was up 14.42, or 0.08%, to 18,906.0. At 8.29am, crude-oil prices were modestly ahead, with gold and silver lower as copper rose.
BT Group (BT.A), up 4.45% to 344.88p, and Ofcom have reached agreement on a long-term regulatory settlement that will see Openreach become a distinct, legally separate company with its own board within the BT.
In other blue-chip news, Hikma (HIK), up 1.09% to 2138p, said its wholly owned US subsidiary, West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp, has launched generic Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine Succinate) ER tablets, 50 mg and 100 mg.
Other stocks notable higher included Shell (RDSA), up 1.45% to 2119.75p, and BP (BP.), ahead 1.03% to 458.68p. Crude prices and oil stocks were sold off on Thursday following a surprise and large rise in US inventories.
Miners were piloted north by Glencore (GLEN), up 1.51% to 311.65p, with its sector buddies some distance off that pace. Other sectors making progress among the roughly 62 blue chips rising were several but not all pharmaceuticals, leisure, insurers, utilities and banks.
To the downside, gold-sensitive miners Fresnillo (FRES), down 2.47% to 1321.5p, and Randgold (RRS), down 1.98% to 6797.5p, were in focus. Also suffering were real estate outfits, with commercial and house-building property stocks mildly lower.
Kodal (KOD) soared 52.69% to 0.35p after completing a £500,000 placing and moving to begin talks for an off-take agreement for the future spodumene concentrate produced from the Bougouni Lithium Project. It also announced a potential further investment in the company of up to £4.3m.
Alba Mineral Resources (ALBA) fell 12.28% to 0.25p after operator Angus Energy advised drilling of the BR-X4Z well did not constitute a breach of the planning consents, contrary to certain claims on a BBC London new item last night.
7digital (7DIG), down 8.62% to 6.63p, said FY revenues rose 15% to £11.9m after currency gains, and as it announced a £3m fundraising and talks on the potential acquisition of its only remaining significant European competitor, 24-7 Entertainment.
esure Group (ESUR), up 7.75% to 239.75p, has reported strong growth in premiums, policies and profit for the year to the end of December. Gross written premiums rose 19.0% to £655.0m. Underlying after-tax profit rose 18.0% to £80.5m.
C&C Group (CCR), down 7.28% to 3.6p, has warned that operating profits will be lower than last time and that it remains cautious on the outlook for its domestic markets.
JRP Group (JRP), up 6.63% to 160.05p, said its pro-forma adjusted operating profit grew 58% in calendar 2016 to £164m. This was driven by an 82% growth in new business profit to £124m. IFRS statutory pretax profit for the 18 months to December 2016 was £199m.
Pennant International (PEN), up 5.49% to 86.5p, swung to a FY pretax profit of £1.9m, from a loss of £2.4m, along with suspended its final dividend and placing its dividend policy under review. Revenue was almost doubled to £17.2m, from £9.9m.
Amec Foster Wheeler (AMFW), up 4.09% to 489.35p, said it had been awarded a major contract by Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd (BSP) for the rejuvenation of assets in Brunei.
Segro (SGRO), down 4.64% to 473.55p, has acquired the 50% interest in the Airport Property Partnership joint venture (APP) it did not already own from the Aviva Group Entities, for £365m. It also unveiled a 1-for-5 discounted rights issue for £573m to part-fund the deal.
William Hill (WMH), up 0.39% to 270.65p, has appointed Philip Bowcock as CEO with immediate effect. He was appointed interim CEO in July 2016, having previously been CFO.
JD Wetherspoon (JDW), down 2.85% to 937.5p, said like-for-like sales rose 3% in the 26 weeks to Jan. 22. It again warn of the danger to the pub industry of the tax disparity with supermarkets. Pre-tax profits before exceptionals rose 42.8% to £51.4m.
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