StockMarketWire | 19/12/2014 - 21:15
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FTSE indices closed higher on the Friday before Christmas with Santa turning up a few days early for mining, retail and financial stocks, which ticked higher through the day. Wall St opened firmer.

FTSE 100 closed up 79.27 points, or 1.23%, to 6545.27. FTSE 250 rose 156.2, or 0.99%, to 15,888.9. British American Tobacco (BATS) rose 1.46% to 3500.25p as unit Imperial Tobacco Canada settled legacy litigation about dividends and asbestos with Flintkote for $575m.

Supermarkets firmed following chipper UK retail data earlier this week. Tesco (TSCO) led with a 5.46% rise to 185.4p, followed by Morrisons (MRW), M&S (MKS) and Sainsbury (SBRY). Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) fattened, and Unilever (ULVR) added 0.04% to 2629p after its US division quit a lawsuit against Hampton Creek.

Miners turned in a strong showing as expectations grew that Beijing might unveil more stimulus to support China's slowing economy. Lonmin (LMI) added 4.77% to 173.6p, with BHP Billiton (BLT) and Fresnillo (FRES) in hot pursuit. Other metals burrowers followed close behind.

Banks, asset managers, insurers and financial services outfits were in focus with Man Group (EMG), Aviva (AV.), HSBC (HSBA) and Standard Life (SL.) all rising. An uptick in crude oil prices of roughly 2% helped Shell (RDSA), up 3.09% to 2170p, and BP (BP.), up 2.63% to 413.13p, gain, but others in the sector remained lower.

BIGGER MOVERS

PeerTV (PTV), down 35.71% to 2.25p, is working with creditors to ensure the on-going viability of the group and saw opportunity to revitalise the business in 2015 with the support of Charles Street Securities and the Yorkville Standby Equity Distribution Agreement facility.

Nature Group (NGR), down 33.08% to 10.88p, said it expected results for 2014 were expected to be materially below current market expectations. Meantime, Mirland Development (MLD) slid 14.36% to 77.5p as the ruble continued to fall, making it hard to assess rent income prospects.

Fitbug (FITB) has won another raft of major retail deals, sending shares up 33.93% to 9.38p. Elsewhere, Rare Earth Minerals (REM), up 23.43% to 1.08p, noted media chatter about its Mexico lithium operations. It expected to provide an operational update in due course.

International Personal Finance's (IPF) agreed cash offer for MCB Finance (MCBR) has been recommended by both boards. The offer valued MCRB at about £23.8m. MCBR was up 41.92% to 118.5p, while IPF fell 1.19% to 442.65p.

ECONOMIC NEWS

Euro zone's current account surplus narrowed in October. October's surplus was 20.5bn euros, from an upwardly revised 32bn euros surplus in September, European Central Bank data showed.

UK public sector net borrowing - excluding state-controlled banks - rose to £14.1bn in November, from a revised £7.1bn in October.

In Germany research group GfK's forward-looking consumer sentiment indicator nudged up to 9.0 heading into January, from December's 8.7. Meantime, German PPI for November came in at 0.0%, from -0.2% in the previous month and against expectations for -0.2%.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Carnival Corporation (CCL) reported a significant rise in FY earnings. It said this was primarily due to strong profit improvement at both its Carnival Cruise Lines and Costa Cruises brands. Profit takers saw its shares down 0.04% to 2812p.

Promethean World (PRW), down 7.03% to 21.5p, anticipates FY revenue will be below expectations at about £118m-£120m, with a consequential impact on adjusted EBITDA. This was linked to certain larger contracts being delayed from Q4 until Q1 2015.

United Carpets (UCG) rose 10.61% to 9.13p as a chipper H1 stoked profit upgrades. Meantime, LSL Property Services (LSL) fell 3.72% to 281.13p on being forced to pay an extra £12m for professional indemnity insurance covering valuations it made before 2008’s property crash.

Accumuli (ACM), up 3.08% to 25.13p, has broken into the penetration-testing market with the £8.9m buy of RandomStorm. Elsewhere, Fastnet Oil & Gas' (FAST) deeper H1 net loss of $1.6m reflected rising technical work developing its portfolio. Its shares added 0.19% to 2.68p.

Serco (SRP) fell 5.01% to 157.5p despite news police have ended their probe into its contract to move prisoners from custody to courts without bringing charges against the company. Finally, Vernalis (VER) fell 3.52% to 48p after Novartis halted work on cancer drug AUY922.