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Markets: Eurozone hopes bolster FTSE 100 on Friday

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Interactive Investor's Market Report brings you bite-sized news covering all the day's FTSE and AIM announcements, the latest on commodities, global and domestic economics, gold, oil and currencies as well as US markets. Updated throughout the day, it's the digest you can't afford to miss.

17:07 - The FTSE 100 (UKX) enjoyed triple-digit gains come the closing bell on Friday, thanks to heightened optimism over a resolution for the seemingly never-ending eurozone debt crisis.

London's benchmark bourse finished 103 points higher at 5488, with Xstrata (XTA) over 6% to the good to pip Weir Group (WEIR) atop the winners' board.

Barclays (BARC) was the shining light in a buoyant banking sector, while Marks and Spencer (MKS) remained stuck at the foot of the index.

However, Yusuf Heusen, sales trader at IG Index, warned: "While global markets are currently enjoying the optimism, there appears to be significant downside risk as policy makers from France and Germany begin locking horns over how to boost the European Financial Stability Fund.

"Traders holding long positions over the weekend could get a nasty shock on Monday if the talks result in further procrastination."

At a glance...

GBP/USD: 1.5645 Gold: $1,639.23
GBP/EUR: 1.1494
WTI crude oil: $85.98
EUR/USD: 1.3873 All changes from 08:55 BST.


16:49 - US stocks continued to go from strength to strength on Friday, with all three leading indices advancing over 1.5%.

A solid set of corporate results, teamed with a strong rise among European banks ahead of Sunday’s EU summit, sent the Dow Jones rocketing 226 points higher to 11768.

The Nasdaq rose 40 points to 2639, while the broader S&P 500 followed suit with a 21-point gain to 1236.


16:35 - Pharma developer ImmuPharma (IMM) reported today that it has regained rights to the drug Lupuzor, following discussions with licensee Cephalon.

The parties will now decide on the future of the current clinical trials involving US and European lupus patients.

"We are delighted to have Lupuzor back. This paves the way for new options for the future of the company," said CEO Dimitri Dimitriou.

16:24 - Fitbug Holdings (FITB) saw shares climb on Friday after signing an agreement with MeYou Health in Boston.

The deal means Fitbug's technologies will be used across MeYou's services.

Fitbug CEO Paul Landau said: "While the revenue from this pilot stage project at MeYou Health is modest, it offers significant future potential and presents an exciting opportunity to partner with an innovative leader in the US health app and mobile health challenge arena."


16:13 - Energy Technique () was rewarded with a big spike in shares on Friday, as it reported positive half-year results.

The industrials tiddler swung into profits, delivering £65,000 in net profit compared to a £359,000 loss in the corresponding half.

Current sales for the heating, cooling and ventilation products group are ahead of management's expectations, leading to "cause for more optimism", said chairman Walter Goldsmith.


16:01 - Telit Communications (TCM) plunged following today's brief trading update, where the company said final results will come in under market expectations due to contract delays.

For the past nine months, revenues were at $128.5 million (c£80.5 million), an increase of 31%, but the company said it expects the final quarter to be "strong".


15:49 - Shares in Stratex (STI) moved forward on Friday, following news that an AngloGold joint venture company has subscribed for additional shares in the company.

This means AngloGold will maintain its equity stake at 11.56% following the private placing in September. AngloGold's additional shares in Stratex raises £119,660.

CEO Bob Foster said: "This demonstrates [the AngloGold joint venture company's] commitment to Stratex as well as their belief in our management team and business strategy as we advance our portfolio of gold and base metal assets in Turkey and East Africa through the development cycle."

15:36 - Revenue remained fairly flat for the 16 weeks to 16 October at Rank (RNK) as it experienced continued weakness at its operations in Spain.

The leisure giant attributed Top Rank España's lack of growth to poor economic conditions and the smoking ban.

For the 42-week period, total group and like-for-like revenue was up by 3%.

Analysts remain in agreement on the company, though, with 'buy' recommendations from both Panmure Gordon and Evolution Securities.

15:24 - Shares in Lok'n Store (LOK) were on the front foot on Friday, after it reported a new £40 million banking facility.

The five-year revolving credit facility with Lloyds TSB replaces an existing deal with RBS, due to expire in February.

The agreement will ensure the self storage group has working capital to develop the business over the medium term. The margin on the new facility will be at LIBOR plus 2.35-2.65% margin, based on a loan-to-value covenant test, currently 2.35%. The interest cover and loan to value covenants are broadly in line with the previous facility.

15:08 - The FTSE 100 (UKX) went from strength to strength in the afternoon session, as investors' optimism grew over a eurozone debt crisis resolution.

London's top share index was 91 points to the good at 5476, with engineer Weir Group (WEIR) maintaining its stranglehold on the premier position on the winners' board.

Elsewhere, Barclays (BARC) led a broadly strong banking sector, while the few losers were headed by high street beacon Marks and Spencer (MKS).

At a glance...


Gold: $1,642.40

WTI crude oil: $85.98


GBP/USD: 1.5929

GBP/EUR: 1.1471

EUR/USD: 1.3886

All changes from 08:55 BST

14:53 - US markets came out all guns blazing on Friday, with sentiment emboldened by optimism over a solution for the eurozone's debt crisis.

On the corporate front, General Electric (GE) unveiled in-line profit for the latest quarter, while McDonald's (MCD) posted a 9% rise in third-quarter profit to $1.51 billion (c£948 million).

On the indices, the Dow Jones soared 159 points to 11701, with the Nasdaq climbing 34 to 2632 and the S&P 500 rising 17 to 1232.

14:35 - Obtala Resources's (OBT) agricultural business has been awarded an Environmental Impact Assessment Certificate for its farm land in southern Tanzania.

The stock remained flat as the company reported progress towards maiden planting, expected in November.

Chairman Francesco Scolaro said: "With food prices expected to increase over time we believe Montara can develop a food industry in East Africa which operates efficiently while ensuring the long term cultivation of the land."

14:14 - Economic gloom has caused 'lender of last resort' Provident Financial (PFG) to reassess its business strategy. The financial group said it is now focusing on delivering services for existing customers rather than attracting new ones.

In an interim statement covering the period from 1 July 2011 to 20 October 2011, Provident said this was the "right approach during a period when consumers' real incomes are under pressure from inflation and there are risks surrounding the future direction of the labour market."

For the full story, read: Economic gloom sees Provident change course.

14:00 - New Europe Property (NEPI) issued a rights offer declaration this morning, resulting in a fall in shares.

The investment vehicle plans to raise €40 million (c£35 million) to fund potential acquisitions, or alternatively, to repay existing debts if the deals currently being negotiated do not come to fruition.

13:45 - Telit Communications (TCM) plunged following today's brief trading update, where the company said final results will come in under market expectations due to contract delays.

For the past nine months, revenues were at $128.5 million, an increase of 31%, but the company said it expects the final quarter to be "strong".

13:31 - Helius Energy () said today that it welcomed greater clarity on biomass energy support following the government's consultation document.

"The company's management are of the opinion that the proposal for dedicated biomass banding [...] effectively maintains the existing levels for those projects already under construction or approaching financial close."

Helius is currently seeking project funding for a 100 megawatt biomass plant in Bristol.

13:19 - Kea Petroleum () has appointed John Dennehy to its board as a commercial director. New Zealand-based Dennehy will run the company alongside David Bennett.

Dennehy is the co-founder of asset finance house McAuley, Dennehy & Tolley, and is executive chair of agritech group Simcro.

13:00 - Today's trading update from CareTech Holdings (CTH) showed the group's capacity has increased by 247 places, to 2,056.

Occupancy levels for the healthcare provider remained at 92% in mature estates, or 87% including facilities under development.

While the company noted that the past year has seen political and social changes to social care, the board believes it is well-placed to deal with any challenges with "high-quality care provision and comprehensive range of services designed to meet the complex needs of clients".

12:41 - Aurelian Oil and Gas (AUL) has acquired an additional 10% interest in in each of the Cybinka and Torzym concessions on Polish Reef Oil Play, taking interest to 45% in each.

The stakes were acquired from Avobone Poland for €705,901 (c£613,000), and shares were higher on the news.

CEO Rowen Bainbridge said: "We are pleased to have acquired an additional 10% interest in these concessions which contain a number of prospects which are play analogues with the nearby Lubitow and BMB oil fields. We are looking forward to the first quarter of 2012 and the spud of our first well on Torzym."

12:26 - Smart Metering Systems (SMS) reported two new contracts signed for the company's gas metering service, bringing the total number to 12.

Meters under management have risen by 8% since June, and the company has increased its leading facilities to fund expansion.

CEO Alan Foy said: "[This] further illustrates the growing demand for our services in the industrial and commercial market. The increased facilities will help our business grow and assist us to take the opportunities quickly when they arise."

12:15 - Consumer confidence continued to fall in September, making it the fourth month in a row the numbers have moved downwards.

The study from Nationwide building society show a three-point fall, to 456 points, in the consumer confidence index; 10 points lower than this time last year.

While the survey found that a quarter of consumers think this is a good time to make a big purchase, 80% said they do not expect to see any improvements in the economy over the next six months.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said: "The economy has hardly grown in 2011, and pressure has continued to mount on household budgets."

12:02 - The FTSE 100 (UKX) crept 36 points higher to 5420, as investors heaped optimism onto the forthcoming European leaders' meeting this weekend.

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) stormed to the top of the rising stocks, while aerospace and defence engineer Meggitt (MGGT) slipped lower.

Yusuf Heusen, sales trader at IG Index, said that it is "positive to see the FTSE 100 hovering around the 5400 mark when arguably there could have been a strong case for simply pulling money off the table given the uncertainty that seems to lie ahead."

He added: "Indeed, it could be argued that there’s a degree of optimism over the outcome of the weekend’s meetings, with the likes of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) both nudging their way higher, while engineering group Weir is leading the blue chip stocks, up over 5% on the back of bullish analyst comments."

Heusen expects Wall Street to open on the front foot and providing investors hold their nerve, the week could end without any drama: "The calm before the storm."

At a glance...


Gold: $1,623.39

WTI crude oil: $85.98


GBP/USD: 1.5804

GBP/EUR: 1.1479

EUR/USD: 1.3760

All changes from 08:55 BST


Get the full story in: Thomas Cook flies high on new bank deal.

11:33 - Shares in Thomas Cook (TCG) soared on Friday after the group announced it had agreed increased financial flexibility and amended terms with its existing bank.

The company has signed a new short-term committed bank facility to provide an additional £100 million of 'headroom' around the seasonal cash low point at the end of December this year.



11:02 - Shares in Byotrol (BYOT) were on the back foot on Friday after the chemicals minnow reported a share placing to raise £2.46 million.

The money will be used to continuing development of the products and brand, and strengthening supply contracts.

CEO Gary Millar said: "The placing will enable Byotrol to deliver on major contracts and build upon the excellent progress made in recent months."

10:37 - Bahamas Petroleum (BPC) is charging ahead with its oil and gas programme in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas after acquiring a 3D seismic survey.

Having raised £43.3 million earlier in the year to pursue its technical programmes, the AIM-listed company acquired a total of 3,075 square kilometres of seismic survey.

The acquisition area was expanded during the process, in response to early encouraging results.

Processing is already underway, with early indications suggesting that the data sets are of a very high quality. It should help Bahamas to glean potential drilling locations down to below 20,000 feet.

10:08 - John Lewis reported a robust 7% year-on-year growth in sales for last week; its best performance in the current half-year's trading.

Overall sales were up 1.9% year-on-year in the 11 weeks to 15 October, with sales of big ticket items increasing to defy the trend of consumers being reluctant to spend money. It added that Christmas-related products have already started selling well.

The report from John Lewis follows news that retail sales volumes rose by a respectable 0.5% in September, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "Retailers will be desperately hoping that these recent signs that consumers may have more life in them than previously thought continues, particularly as the critical Christmas period is now on the horizon. However, it remains hard to be anything other than pretty downbeat about the prospects for consumer spending for some time to come."

09:49 - British power company Aggreko (AGK) raised its full-year outlook after enjoying a strong performance in the third quarter.

The FTSE 100-listed giant said revenue grew by 22% from 1 July to date, thanks to growth within both its international power projects business and local business divisions.

For more, read: Aggreko raises full-year outlook.

09:24 - Junior oil and gas explorer Max Petroleum () announced today that it has struck black gold at its ASK-2 well in the Asanketken Field, Kazakhstan.

The exploration well, which has reached an intermediate casing point at 2,000 metres, has revealed 12 metres of net oil pay in Jurassic reservoirs between depths of 1,284 and 1,308 metres.

For the full story on its latest Kazakh success, read: Max Petroleum strikes oil at ASK-2.

08:55 - The FTSE 100 (UKX) found itself on the front foot on Friday, as investors' hopes of a resolution for the eurozone debt crisis were heightened.

London's top share index was up 24 points at 5408, with engineering firm Weir Group (WEIR) up over 5% to top the winners' board, while the banking triumvirate of Barclays (BARC), Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) also enjoyed success early on.

On the other hand, Aggreko (AGK) found itself at the foot of the index early on, despite delivering a "strong performance in the third quarter".

The temporary power supplier reported a 22% in underlying revenue for the period from 1 July to date, while also upping its outlook for the year.

Aggreko also announced increased order intake in its international power projects business, while "good progress" had been made in collecting payments from three overdue debtors.

Looking ahead, the firm said in a statement: "Although the prospects for the global economy remain uncertain, the strength of our recent trading performance, and our view of the prospects for the fourth quarter, mean that we now believe that pre-tax profits for the year will be at least £320 million."

US markets...

Hopes in Europe over a solution to the debt crisis provided a modicum of support to US indices on Thursday.

Having initially drifted lower amid rumours a key EU summit would be postponed, markets moved higher following a Franco-German announcement that the two eurozone powerhouses would be meeting on Saturday to thrash out a resolution.

The Dow Jones was 37 points better off at 11541, with the S&P 500 moving five higher at 1215. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq slipped five to 2598.

At a glance...

Asian markets

Hang Seng: 18036 ( 52)

Nikkei 225: 8678 ( three)

Shanghai Composite: 2317 ( 14)


Gold: $1,626.34

WTI crude oil: $85.98


GBP/USD: 1.5778

GBP/EUR: 1.1474

EUR/USD: 1.3750

08:00 - The FTSE 100 (UKX) opens at 5385.

Gold: $1,639.23
GBP/USD: 1.5645 
WTI crude oil: $85.98
GBP/EUR: 1.1494
 All changes from 09:00 BST.
GBP/EUR: 1.1494