FTSE indices managed almost-convincing gains at the close. Miners enjoyed an uptick on hopes China will introduce new measures to boost growth, while financials also rose. Wall St opened markedly firmer on macro data, while European stock ladders also turned in encouraging performances.
FTSE 100 closed up 36.41 points, or 0.53%, to 6891.43, off recent highs above 7000. FTSE 250 was up 45.46, or 0.26%, to 17,208.1. Both indices enjoyed gains as investors spied value buys after last week's sell off. At 4.46pm, WTI crude was down 1.74% to $48.02/bbl. Brent was down 1.95% to $55.31/bbl.
Antofagasta (ANTO) led blue chips up with a 3.43% rise to 739.5p, with Anglo American (AAL), Kaz Minerals (KAZ) and others trailing. People's Bank of China's governor has hinted the nation's economy had slowed 'a bit too sharply' and there might be new measures to boost growth. Randgold (RRS), up 1.22% to 4814p, has hiked attributable reserves by 0.8% to 15.2m oz, but investors responded to a 3% fall in resources to 27.8m oz.
Kingfisher (KGF), up 1.96% to 364.8p, has canned its proposed buy of French DIY group Mr Bricolage. Otherwise, financials firmed. RSA Insurance (RSA) rose 1.72% to 430.5p to pilot insurers, while Barclays (BARC) led banks on a 1.45% gain to 247.8p. Also up was pharma giant Glaxosmithkline, rising 0.96% to 1584.5p. Shell (RDSA) rose 0.86% to 2052p
In the news, Serco (SRP) fell 3.03% to 163p on agreeing the sale of its Great Southern Rail business for an enterprise value and cash of £2.5m. Rolls-Royce (RR.) rose 1.48% to 961.5p as Air China selected its Trent 1000 engines and long-term TotalCare support. Compass (CPG) added 1.02% to 1186p on a pleasing trading update.
Black Sea Property Fund's (BKSA) net asset value as at Dec. 31, 2014, was £187,925 or 0.1 pence a share (2013: £3,153,942 or 1.5 pence a share). Its shares fell 50% to 0.17p.
Plethora Solutions (PLE) fell 34.04% to 3.88p booked FY losses from continuing operations of £15.7m, from £8.8m last. Meantime, Kimberly Enterprises (KBE) slumped 36.36% to 0.18p after on a FY post-tax loss of 10.4m euros, from a loss of 9.5m euros. Its financial position remained weak and was not certain that it would be able to meet obligations to employees and service providers as they fall due.
Vela (VELA) acquired a further 1.5m ordinary shares in 3Legs Resources (3LEG) on March 25 at a price of 0.21p each. 3Legs was up 33.33% to 0.36p, while Vela gained 12.5% to 0.18p. Meantime, Outsourcery (OUT), down 14.75% to 26p, has narrowed its FY pretax loss before tax to £7.6m, from a loss of £9.3m. Revenue was £7.4m, from £5.2m.
Stateside, personal consumption expenditures (PCE) rose $11.8bn, or 0.1%, in February, US Bureau of Economic Analysis said. In January, PCE decreased $28.5bn, or 0.2%, based on revised estimates. Core PCE rose 0.1% in February, as in January. US personal income increased $58.6bn, or 0.4%, in February, US Bureau of Economic Analysis said. In January, personal income increased $61.8bn, or 0.4%, based on revised estimates.
The US National Association of Realtors' Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 3.1% to 106.9 in February from a slight downward revision of 103.7 in January and is now 12.0% above February 2014 (95.4).
UK net lending to individuals rose £2.5bn in February, in line with forecasts and up from January's 2.4bn. M4 Money Supply fell to a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in February, from January's fall of 0.7%. The result was as anticipated. Final mortgage approvals rose to 61,760 in February, against January's 60,710. Expectations were for a fall to 61,500.
Imaginatik (IMTK), up 19.05% to 3.13p, has signed a significant three-year contract renewal, worth about £0.3m, with a US energy provider. Elsewhere, CloudBuy (CBUY), down 10.64% to 21p, booked a FY pretax loss of £4.6m, from a loss of £0.9m. Revenue was £2.1m, from £3.0m.
Billing Services Group's (BILL) FY revenues fell to $42.4m, from $53.9m. It reported net income of $2.1m, from a net loss of $6.2m. Its shares fell 8% to 2.88p. Xtract Resources (XTR) fell 18.6% to 0.18p after raising £1.75m after placing shares at 0.15p each.
Venn Life Sciences (VENN) advanced 8.24% to 23p on signing 4.1m euros worth of contracts with an unnamed US biotech to help evaluate the efficacy of drugs in clinical trials. Elsewhere, Miton (MGR), up 5.39% to 22p, has swung to a FY pretax loss of £5.6m, from a profit of £0.7m a year earlier. Revenue slipped. It proposed a dividend of 0.6p a share, up 11.1% from 0.54p.
Quindell (QPP), up 6.25% to 146.63p, has today agreed to dispose of its Professional Services Division to Slater and Gordon Ltd for an initial cash consideration of £637m. Shareholders could get a 100p a share cash windfall as a result.
Charles Taylor (CTR), down 4.35% to 220p, has decided not to pursue the acquisition opportunity involving a life insurance business, which it referred to at the time of its rights issue on March 18. Such a deal my have required shareholder approval, as well as additional financing separate from the net proceeds of the rights issue.
Other stocks in the news included Treatt (TET), Ortac Resources (OTC), Ironveld (IRON), Tasty (TAST), Revolymer (REVO), Learning Technologies Group (LTG), Instem (INS), Cenkos Securities (CNKS), Babcock (BAB), Numis Corporation (NUM), Fulham Shore (FUL), Diploma (DPLM), CVS (CVSG) and Borders & Southern (BOR).