London blue chips stole up to a positive close, with gains by BT Group (BT.A) providing a beacon for a mixed bag of risers including resources, financials and commercial property. These outpaced biggish falls among a band of losers led by Centrica (CNA). Europe and Wall St were mixed.
BT (BT.A) added 2.63% to 451.05p as it booked a FY adjusted pretax profit of GBP3.473bn, up 9%, and unveiled plans to invest billions on fibre, 4G and customer service. FY dividend rose 13% to 14p. Fellow teleco Vodafone (VOD) managed a 0.64% gain to 219.35p.
Miners were guided by Anglo American (AAL), ahead 1.77% to 654.6p, and Antofagasta (ANTO), rising 1.56% to 442.2p. Oilies traced Shell (RDSA), gaining 0.94% to 1726.5p. Commercial property improved in the wake of Land Securities (LAND), up 0.79% to 1142p.
At the close, FTSE 100 was up 5.23 points, or 0.09%, to 6117.25, off Wednesday's multi-week lows. FTSE 250 shed 15.52, or 0.09%, to 16,643.9, its lowest since March 15. Ex-dividend stocks were a factor, albeit mostly outside the top 100. By 4.35pm, WTI crude was at USD44.89/bbl. Brent rose to USD45.52/bbl, both down from earlier. Gold was steady at USD1278/oz.
While several utilities limped north behind National Grid (NG.), ahead 0.54% to 987.5p, the story of the day was undoubtedly wooden spoon-winner Centrica (CNA). It flopped 9.78% to 208.5p on plans to raise about GBP750m via a placing to fund acquisitions and cut debt. It intended to issue about 350m shares, or 7% of its issued share capital.
Also firming were tobacco outfits behind Imperial Brands (IMB), up 1.35% to 3760p, and a range of financials guided by insurer RSA Insurance (RSA), ahead 1.98% to 478.8p, and London Stock Exchange (LSE), up 1.32% to 2610p. Beverages specialists eked out gains. Top-100 risers and fallers were about evenly split.
Inmarsat (ISAT) orbited 7.2% south to 863p on its Q1 after-tax profits of USD45.6m, down 41.1%. Total revenues fell USD6.2m to USD298.6m. Sage (SGE) fell 3.64% to 582p as it reported a drop in H1 pretax profit and unveiled a deal to buy a 20.7% stake in Fairsail.
Rolls-Royce (RR.), down 2.33% to 630p, has traded in line during the first few months of the year, but noted a challenging market. Smith & Nephew (SN.) eased 2.66% to 1133p despite lifting its Q1 underlying revenue 4% to USD1.137bn.
Supermarkets were mixed. Tesco (TSCO) lost 0.09% to 159.9p and Sainsbury (SBRY) shed 0.45% to 266.6p. M&S (MKS) added 0.19% to 413.8p. Morrisons (MRW), up 2.4% to 192p, was in the shop window as it said LFL sales excluding fuel in the 13 weeks to May 1 rose 0.7%, and up 1.2% including fuel. Unilever (ULVR), Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) and ABF (ABF) also rose.
Vitesse Media (VIS) leaped 72.73% to 2.38p on a boardroom reshuffle and stating its new financial year had started well. Meantime, LGO Energy (LGO) fell 24.55% to 0.21p after raising GBP3.25m via a placing of 1.625bn shares at 0.2p each, and agreed a new loan-repayment schedule with BNP Paribas.
Billing Services (BILL), up 37.14% to 5p, has agreed a resolution with the US Federal Trade Commission over litigation pending before a Texas court. BSG will pay the FTC a total of USD5.2m for consumer redress in ten equal quarterly instalments. FTC has agreed to release BSG from all claims related to enhanced services billing.
Falanx (FLX), down 31.25% to 4.13p, is to acquire the entire issued share capital of Advanced Security Consulting Ltd for a total consideration of about GBP435,000, comprising the issue of 7.125m shares and GBP150,000 cash.
Stateside, US initial jobless claims rose to 274,000 in the week ended April 30, a rise of 17,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 257,000, US Department of Labor said.
Back in UK, the services purchasing managers' index (PMI) came in at 52.3 for April, which was below the 53.6 expected and from 53.7 previously, data from Markit showed.
Legendary Investments (LEG) fell 13.7% to 0.32p on raising GBP1m gross via an oversubscribed placing of 333.33m shares at 0.3p each. The shares were placed with a range of institutional and private investors. Funds would go to investment opportunities when they arise.
Orsu Metals (OSU) surged 23.53% to 1.58p, well off earlier highs, on receiving a deposit of USD100,000 from Karasat Trading FZE for the sale of the Karchiga Project.
Filtronic (FTC), up 22.73% to 10.13p, has received further substantial production orders for its new range of integrated antennas from a major European OEM. The orders are valued at about USD24.2m and are follow-ons to the previously announced orders totalling USD13.8m.
7digital (7DIG), up 20.41% to 7.38p, has signed a contract with musical.ly, a fast-growing social media platform based around video and music with a strong international footprint. The deal will contribute to 7digital's revenues for 2016.
Highlands Natural Resources (HNR) fell 13.1% to 36.5p as it said, pursuant to the exercise of warrants, application has been made for an additional 310,000 shares to be admitted to trading.
Robinson (RBN), down 11.43% to 155p, said its Q1 revenues were down 10% on the year, of which 4% was due to lower resin prices. The lower volumes were mainly as result of lower demand for our customers' products in the market, continuing the trend seen in H2 2015.
Premier Veterinary (PVG), up 10.97% to 134p, has begun a controlled expansion into the US for its preventative healthcare programme for pets branded "Pet Care Plan". Portmeirion (PMP) rose 2.59% to 1190p on the GBP17.5m buy of Wax Lyrical, UK's largest home-fragrances maker.
Trinity Mirror (TNI), up 5.42% to 119.13p, said, at this stage, its directors see the company's FY performance in line with market expectations. Like-for-like group revenue fell 8.6% in the four months to May 1. It is moving to exit failing newspaper The New Day.
Other stocks in the news included Noricum Gold (NMG), esure (ESUR), Goals Soccer Centres (GOAL), IMI (IMI), Shawbrook (SHAW), Lancashire (LRE), Beazley (BEZ), Wood Group (WG.), Portmeirion (PMP), Provident Financial (PFG), Costain (COST), Symphony International (SIHL), Bunzl (BNZL), Millennium & Copthorne (MLC), John Laing Infrastructure Fund Ltd (JLIF), Morgan Sindall (MGNS) and Alecto Minerals (ALO).