LONDON (Alliance News) - Stocks in London started Wednesday's session in an upbeat mood, with the FTSE 100 rising despite Marks & Spencer dragging on the blue-chip index as it unveiled plans for its GBP600 million fundraise.Power provider SSE was another large-cap faller, as it reported annual results "well short" of expectations.The FTSE 100 was up 36.14 points, or 0.5%, at 7,365.06 early Wednesday. The mid-cap FTSE 250 was up 18.88 points, or 0.1%, at 19,455.24. The AIM All-Share was up 0.3% at 962.30.The Cboe UK 100 index was up 0.5% at 12489.97. The Cboe UK 250 was flat at 17468.76, with the Cboe UK Small Companies also flat at 11833.33.In European equities, the CAC 40 in Paris and the DAX 30 in Frankfurt were both down 0.2%.In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 index ended up 0.1%, while in China, the Shanghai Composite is down 0.8% with the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong flat.In Wednesday's economic calendar, UK consumer and producer prices are at 0930 BST. In the afternoon, minutes from the last US Federal Reserve meeting are released at 1900 BST.Lloyds Banking expects annual UK inflation to accelerate to 2.2% in April from 1.9% in March, mainly due to Ofgem's planned 10% rise in the energy price cap.Ahead of the inflation data, the pound was quoted at USD1.2692, down from USD1.2760 late Tuesday.Sterling was knocked amid speculation UK Prime Minister will resign "within days", said Naeem Aslam at ThinkMarkets."She tried her latest trick yesterday. May offered closer ties with the customs union and also an option of another referendum on her deal. The news initially brought a lot of excitement for sterling and we experienced a huge surge in the price, but it started to fade away when traders realized that what she offered was nothing new," he said.May's last-ditch attempt to get a deal through included offering a vote on whether to hold a second referendum, as well as a choice over the UK's future customs arrangements.May, who will face the Commons on Wednesday, hopes her 10-point compromise plan will woo enough Labour and DUP MPs to make up for Tory Eurosceptics who are implacably opposed to her deal.However, her deal has been described as "dead on arrival", with the prospect of a larger Tory revolt than her previous failed attempt to get a Brexit agreement through Parliament. Rejection of the bill would heap further pressure on May to quit immediately, with some Tories calling on her to go now without even risking the humiliation of a fourth Commons defeat on Brexit.Amid broad-based gains for the FTSE 100 as a whole, Marks & Spencer slipped 4.7% as the high street stalwart reported a fall in annual revenue and laid out details of its rights issue of new shares.Revenue for the year to March 30 fell 3.0% to GBP10.38 billion, though pretax profit rose 27% to GBP84.6 million. On an adjusted basis, pretax profit was down 9.9% to GBP523.2 million.Consensus had seen adjusted pretax profit at GBP519 million.UK Food revenue declined 0.6%, with like-for-like revenue down 2.3%, which the company said reflected the adverse impact of Easter timing in both the first and last quarters of the year. Easter fell on April 1 in 2018 and on April 21 this year.UK Clothing & Home revenue fell 3.6%, with like-for-like revenue down 1.6%.In line with a previous announcement that the retailer would be chopping its dividend, M&S declared a final dividend of 7.1p, bringing its payout for the year to 13.9p. This is down 26% on 18.7p paid out a year ago.Separately, M&S laid out details of its fundraise to pay for its recently announced Ocado grocery delivery joint venture.M&S will be raising GBP601.3 million via a rights issue, which will result in 325.0 million shares being issued. This represents 20% of M&S's existing share capital. Shares in the one-for-five rights issue will be priced at 185p each, which represents a 32% discount to the firm's closing price on Tuesday.SSE fell 2.8% as it reported full-year results "well" short of expectations, with profit comfortably missing the market's forecasts. The FTSE 100 utility's adjusted pretax profit slipped 38% year-on-year for the 12 months to March to GBP725.7 million, against analyst consensus of GBP807 million. SSE's revenue for the year was GBP7.33 billion, which has been reduced from GBP27.25 billion due to the company's adoption of the IFRS 15 accounting standard. Babcock International fell 8.5% after the defence firm reported a sharp fall in annual profit on exceptional charges.Revenue for the year to March 31 fell 4.0% to GBP4.47 billion, as pretax profit dropped 40% to GBP235.2 million following GBP160.8 million booked in exceptional costs.Nonetheless, the company raised its dividend 1.7% to 30.0p from 29.5p the year before.Barrick Gold - which last year snapped up former FTSE 100 constituent Randgold Resources - has made an all-share takeover offer for Acacia Mining.Shares in FTSE 250-listed Acacia Mining were down 5.1%.Barrick is proposing to buy the remaining shares in FTSE 250-listed gold miner it does not already own through an exchange of 0.153 Barrick of a share for each Acacia one. This offer values Acacia at USD787 million, equivalent to around GBP620 million.Barrick currently holds a 64% stake in Acacia.At Tuesday's closing price of 159.50 pence, Acacia currently had a market capitalisation of GBP654.1 million.Barrick added that it has been negotiating with the government of Tanzania for the past two years and, while the basis for a settlement has been developed but not finalised, in meetings this past weekend, the government stated that it is not prepared to enter into a settlement directly with Acacia.Acacia, in its own press release, said it will seek clarification on the Tanzania government's stance and advised shareholders to take no action at this time on the Barrick offer.Royal Mail was 1.1% lower as the postal operator decided to rebase its dividend going forward, while reporting a fall in operating profit before transformation costs.Revenue for the 53 weeks to March was up to GBP10.58 billion from GBP10.17 billion in the 52-week period the year before. Pretax profit rose to GBP241 million from GBP212 million, while adjusted operating profit before transformation costs fell 34% to GBP376 million.Addressed letter volumes fell 8%, in line with revised expectations, with total letter revenue down 6%. UKPIL revenue was flat at GBP7.60 billion, while GLS revenue was up 8% on volume growth of 5%.The FTSE 250 constituent said it will pay out a full-year dividend of 25.0p, up 4% from 24.0p the year before. However, the firm then plans to rebase its payout policy.For the 2020 financial year, Royal Mail said the plan is for a full-year dividend "underpin" of 15.0p, which may then be supplemented by additional payouts in years with "substantial excess cashflow"."The investment in the UK, and expected lower cash flow in the early years, means we are rebasing the dividend and changing our dividend policy," explained Chief Executive Rico Black."This is not a decision we have taken lightly as we know how important the dividend is to our shareholders. We have sought to find an appropriate balance between sustainable shareholder returns, and investing in the future," he added.Elsewhere on the Main Market, struggling clothing retailer Superdry said it has appointed Nick Gresham as interim chief financial officer.Superdry shares were up 4.8% in early trade.Gresham is currently CFO at online sport and cycling retailer Wiggle, and has previously held the same role at Oak Furnitureland and Connect Group. He will take up the role at Superdry on June 3."This is an important step for Superdry as we continue to focus on rebuilding the board and putting the right leadership and corporate governance structure in place," said Superdry Chair Peter Williams.
(Alliance News) - SSE PLC said Monday Networks unit Managing Director Colin Nicol sold GBP113,724 worth of shares in the FTSE 100-listed energy company.Nicol - who sits on SSE's Group -