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FTSE 100 edges higher after in-line GDP figures

UK stocks were little changed, with UK third quarter gross domestic product proving a non-event.

The UK economy grew 0.8% from the previous quarter, in line with expectations.

FTSE 100 ended the day up 8 points to 6,721, having risen 1.5% over the course of the week.

Friday’s advance, such as it was, was led by state-owned lender Royal Bank of Scotland (LON:RBS) on reports that the hiving off its Citizens Financial arm in the US could happen sooner than previously expected.

Outsourcers were in the news. Security specialist G4S (LON:GFS) finished up 2.2% at 258.5p as rumours about a possible break-up of the security giant swirled around the City.

HSBC, which lifted its recommendation from ‘neutral’ to ‘sell’, sparked the speculation, saying: “Hopes that value can be unlocked through break-ups and a rejuvenated strategy are likely to buoy G4S’s stock through what is perceived as a rump of difficult trading.”

Private equity firm Charterhouse Capital is checking out the company’s cash solutions business, while activist hedge fund Cevian Capital has been buying into the firm to encourage it to sell off parts of the business.

Meanwhile, Serco (LON:SRP) rose 0.9% to 557.5p after the chief executive officer Chris Hyman threw himself on top of a grenade, taking one for the team after the company found itself at the centre of an overcharging scandal.

The former FTSE 100 firm revealed the departure of chief executive Chris Hyman alongside plans to reorganise the company to make it more “transparent” as it strives to retain UK government business.

Hyman will be replaced in an acting capacity by Ed Casey, who has led Serco's Americas division since 2005. The company plans to look outside the business for a long-term successor.

Premier Oil (LON:PMO) was among the top mid-cap performers as its 15%-owned Rochelle field in the North Sea achieved ‘first gas’.

Despite Serco’s rally and Premier’s rise, the FTSE 250 finished off 35 points at 15,492, with AZ Electronic Materials (LON:AZEM) acting as a drag, down 1.5%, after it was cut to ‘underperform’ by Credit Suisse.

As for the small caps, Antrim Energy (LON:AEY) jumped 12% to 7.12p as it confirmed the restart of oil production from the Causeway and Cormorant East fields in the North Sea.

This follows the completion of a routine phase of maintenance, which began in August but had overrun.

Additionally, Antrim also confirmed that production rates from Causeway are now expected to rise over the course of the year, due to the start-up of electrical submersible pumps and the use of water injection.

Prior to shut-down, Causeway was producing just shy of 3,000 barrels per day while Cormorant East, which came online earlier this year, produced 625 barrels per day in the first half of the year.

Antrim owns a 35.5% interest in Causeway and an 8.4% stake in Cormorant East (which is located in the Contender Area).
Industry sources also suggest Antrim is a possible takeover target for those looking to get a foothold off the coast of Ireland.

Seeing Machines (LON:SEE) rose 6% to 5.7p when it revealed Cliffs Natural Resources is to trial its driver safety technology, which monitors truck drivers’ fatigue levels.

Seeing Machines said the technology will be installed into six road trains for a 90 day fatigue assessment trial which, once completed, could see a larger scale rollout across the fleet. The value of this deployment is over A$150,000.

Nostra Terra (LON:NTOG) was wanted, up 15.2% at 0.38p, after it quashed speculation that a share placing is on the way. Emphasising the group’s cash position, chief executive Matt Lofgran said: "We previously announced that in January we had surpassed cash flow positive on an operational basis.

“This still remains the case, where free cash flow generated from production has been reinvested into additional wells throughout the year. Since that time we have also collected in excess of $1,400,000 from Richfield, and these funds will also be used for upcoming leasing and drilling."

News that Top Level Domain Holdings (LON:TLDH) is set to bank almost £3mln from the private internet domain auction process sent the shares surging to 12p, up 23%.

Shares rose after the company revealed the financial upside to being a loser in auctions for new domain names. The group was in the running for the top level domains (the letters at the end of web addresses) .website and .lawyer, which went to private auction. While the winning bidders will take ownership of the names, the losers share the proceeds.

John Harrington
John Harrington

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