Footsie emerged from the lunch-time session nursing a small gain, with the majority of the blue-chip index's constituents in positive territory.
Chief among them was chip designer ARM Holdings. UBS has issued a downbeat assessment of the European semiconductor market but it has made an exception of chip designer ARM, and raised its price target for the Cambridge firm from 305p to 370p.
There is also talk doing the rounds that consumer electronics giant Samsung has chosen to use ARM technology in a parcel of new products in preference to Imagination Technologies. Samsung boss Hankil Yoon told the Wall Street recently that its soon to be released tablet PC, which uses Google's Android operating system, is projected to sell 10m units by this time next year.
BP is also higher after the release of its internal investigation into the causes of the tragic accident on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. The investigation found that no single factor caused the Macondo well tragedy. Rather, a sequence of failures involving a number of different parties led to the explosion and fire which killed 11 people and caused widespread pollution in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.
Decisions made by "multiple companies and work teams" contributed to the accident which the report says arose from "a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces."
There has been a rush to buy up property stocks such as Hammerson and Land Securities after BarCap began coverage of the sector with an "overweight" recommendation.
A potential political row over the appointment of Bob Diamond as its new CEO is dogging Barclays, making it the biggest faller in a weak banking sector that also sees Royal Bank of Scotland featuring prominently among the Footsie's biggest losers. Investors are leery of bank shares after the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that many major lenders had understated their exposure to potentially risky government bonds during the recent stress tests.
Vodafone is selling its 3.2% stake in China Mobile for £4.3bn ($6.6bn) in cash as part of the mobile phone giant's strategy of exiting its smaller investments. It will return about 70% of the money to shareholders through share buybacks and use the rest to slim down its £33bn debt pile.
Dana Petroleum's board has launched a fierce defence of its continued rejection of the 1,800p offer from Korean group KNOC, saying the group is worth at least 2,270p and could be worth 3,053p including all its potential assets. That valuation includes the UK assets of Suncor Petroleum, which Dana agreed to buy today for £240m having flagged the purchase last month.
A 0.2% increase in house prices last month has hauled the cost of a home back close to levels seen at the end of 2009, according to the latest report. That's 4.6% higher than a year ago using a three-month average price, a little less than July's 4.9% and a continuation of the downward trend fro May's 6.9%.
Reports from sector stalwarts were mixed. South east-based housebuilder Berkeley said demand in the Capital has held up over the past three months, though outside London business is tougher. "Demand for properties in the period from 1st May to 31st August 2010 has been resilient, particularly in London which has a shortage of supply and specific demand from international purchasers who are keen to invest in the Capital," Berkeley said.
Housebuilder Barratt cut its losses sharply last year and made a net profit in the second half as the housing market rebounded, though reservations have turned down recently. Losses before tax and exceptional items were £33.0m (2009: £144.1m) with a profit before tax and exceptional items of £15.5m in the second half. The loss before tax for the year to June was £162.9m (2009: £678.9m).
The stock turns lower, however, taking sector peers Taylor Wimpey and Redrow with it.
Chocolate maker Thorntons served up a decline in full year profit and while it expects market conditions to remain rocky, it believes its more streamlined business puts it in a stronger position moving ahead. The group, which issued a profit warning earlier this year, said pre-tax profit fell by 2.4% to £6.1m in the year ended 26 June 2010. Revenues remained flat at £214.6m.
Restaurant chain Prezzo traded strongly through the economic uncertainty of the first half of the year and has dusted off its growth plans. Revenue in the half-year to June rose 11% to £48.4m, up from £43.7m, with pre-tax profits climbing from £5.1m to £6m.
Alliance Pharma is to more than double its interim dividend as it posted record results during the first half. For the six months to the end of June profit before tax and exceptional items surged to £7.7m.
Machine-to-machine communications technology company Telit continued on the recovery trail in the first half of this year and the second half of 2010 looks like being just as strong, prompting the company to advise that full year results are likely to be ahead of expectations.
Speciality drug developer AGI Therapeutics posted narrower losses in the six months to June 30 and said it was on the look-out for 'external opportunities.'
Futura Medical, the consumer medical healthcare company that has developed a 'viagra condom' said it made good progress towards becoming profitable in the six months to June 30.
Remote control handset maker JS JS has completed a placing of 15m shares at 2p a go, raising £300,000 for 'working capital purposes.'
Chocolatier Thorntons said an encouraging performance during its key Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Easter period makes it confident that full year pre-exceptional profit before tax will be substantially ahead of the current market expectation with the potential for further improvement in the final quarter. [24 Apr '13]
Datafeed and UK data supplied by NETbuilder and Interactive Data.
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