FTSE tends higher ahead of Fed as Hikma flies

London equities tended cautiously higher in early deals as traders looked mostly beyond a string of corporate news to the US Federal Reserve rate decision tonight, with the Bank of England issuing its rate call tomorrow.

These factors have seen global stock markets trade sideways so far this week. The Fed was predicted to lift rates, while BoE was anticipated to hold. Brexit and the likely activation of Article 50 this week added to investor caution, as did Netherlands’ elections.

Not long after the open, FTSE 100 was up 23.65 points, or 0.32%, to 7381.5, while the FTSE 250 was up 15.11, or 0.08%, to 18,966.2. At 8.38am, crude prices were up by more than 1%, but overall remained well below recent levels. Gold, silver and particularly copper prices were up.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK), up 6.61% to 2266.5p and topping blue-chip risers, saw strong growth in revenue and core operating profit in constant currency in 2016 after significant strategic progress. It reported operating profit of $302m, down 21%.

AstraZeneca (AZN), up 0.12% to 4860.25p, issued favourable results following the phase III SOLO-2 trial focused on relapsed ovarian cancer with the tablets Lynparza (olaparib).

Other blue-chip sectors making progress included miners, which were piloted by Antofagasta (ANTO), ahead 1.97% to 804p, and Rio Tinto (RIO), gaining 1.89% to 3377.75p. More followed, as did oilies BP (BP.), up 1.01% to 461.63p, and Shell (RDSA), up 0.59% to 2104.25p.

Several insurers also made gains, as did several banks. Residential and commercial property stocks were broadly lower, along with a bunch of utilities and supermarkets. Top-100 fallers were led by Sage (SGE), down 1.35% to 637.25p, and Mediclinic (MDC), down 1.09% to 747.75p.


Magnolia Petroleum (MAGP) rose 42.11% to 0.14p after it reported a 112% rise in total net proved developed producing (PDP) oil and condensate reserves to 282.686 Mbbl at Jan. 1. It reported a 303% rise in total net PDP gas reserves to 2,343.116 MMCF.

Nektan (NKTN), up 29.03% to 20p, said US subsidiary Respin Games LLC has signed its first major contract with a Tier-1 US casino operator to launch its real money in-venue mobile games solution into the US casino market.

Zinc Media (ZIN) fell 18.52% to 1.1p after it posted a much wider H1 pretax loss of £529,000, from a loss of £136,000. Revenue was lower. It did, however, note profitability at the adjusted EBITDA level from continuing operations.

Prairie Mining (PDZ) added 18.42% to 45p on stating a scoping study has showed potential technical viability and robust economics for the fully permitted Debiensko mine to be a large scale, lowest cost and long life premium hard coking coal supplier.


Metals Exploration (MTL) fell 16.22% to 3.88p on stating mining and processing at the Runruno Gold project were ramping up slower than expected due mostly to prolonged rainfall. This had adversely impacted the grade and sulphur content of ore available for processing.

Oilex (OEX) shed 15.38% to 0.28p as it advised its Australia-listed shares had been suspended pending the release of an announcement relating to a capital raising.

Mobile Streams (MOS), down 14.29% to 3p, noted strong growth in the number of active subscribers in India, but added difficult trading in Argentina was continuing and would see FY company revenue and EBITDA materially lower than market views.

Marshalls (MSLH), the specialist landscape products group, has bumped up its FY pretax profit and total dividend, with revenue also rising. MSLH’s shares rose 7.41% to 339.75p.

Gem Diamonds (GEMD), down 6.14% to 108.88p, saw its FY revenue fall to $189.8m, while underlying EBITDA of $62.8m was down from $103.5m in 2015. Profit for the year fell to $32.3m from $67.4m.

BlueRock Diamonds (BRD), up 5.88% to 4.5p, confirmed the new crushing and screening operation at the Kareevlei mine in South Africa was tested under full load and found to be fully operational and performing well.

Fusionex (FXI), up 3.27% to 158p, said its FY gross profits rose 26% to RM74.0m, with increasing GIANT sales resulting in a 23% rise in revenue to RM94.6m.

Haydale Graphene Industries (HAYD), up 2.42% to 169.5p, subsidiary Advanced Composite Materials has entered a four-year agreement to supply silicon carbide micro-fibre to a global industrial manufacturer of tooling and wear-resistant solutions.

Other stocks in the news included Brooks Macdonald (BRK), Sports Direct International (SPD), Playtech (PTEC), LondonMetric Property (LMP), Clinigen (CLIN), 1PM (OPM), Orchard Funding (ORCH) and Manx Telecom (MANX).

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