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Small-caps put on mixed show but Strategic Minerals gleams

Miner soars after taking step towards nickel mining in Australia

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Small-cap stocks were hovering around their starting point

Small-caps were mixed on Thursday but miner Strategic Minerals (LON:SML) was bucking the trend.

The FTSE AIM 100 Index was down 0.72 points at 3444 by lunchtime while the FTSE AIM All-Share was slightly in positive territory, up 0.3 points at 733.

Investors swooped on Strategic Minerals after the miner revealed planning of the maiden drilling programme at Hanns Camp nickel-copper sulphide prospect in Australia was underway.

Hanns Camp forms part of the Laverton Project, in which Strategic has a stake via its acquisition of up to half of Central Australian Rare Earths. The shares soared 0.06p, or 38.7%, to 0.22p.

Other junior miners were also doing well. Goldstone Resources (LON:GRL) added 10% to 1.925p, while copper miner Weatherly International (LON:WTI) gained 19% to stand at 0.625p.

Oil stocks were not so slick.

US onshore focused Northcote Energy (LON:NCT) fell 25% to 0.0375p after it completed a placing of 1.59mln shares at 0.0315p to raise £500,000.

It will use the cash to complete the Mayan Drilling Fluids remediation plant while keeping adequate working capital and flexibility to consider other strategic opportunities.

Greka Drilling (LON:GDL) was also down over 11% to 4p each despite it managing to increase revenues in 2015 even with the well-documented travails of the oil and gas sector.

The Asia-focused independent and specialised unconventional oil & gas driller lifted annual revenues to US$29.9mln in 2015 from US$24.4mln in 2014.

Underlying earnings (EBITDA) rose to US$2.4mln from US$1.9mln.

But Range Resources (LON:RRL) spurted almost 24% to 0.57p on news that it had found oil-bearing zones in the first of four development wells to be drilled in Trinidad.

Investors piled into United Carpets (LON:UCG) as the floor covering retailer forecast final results to be better than expected. Shares rose 2.12p, or 19.1%, to 13.25p.

Elsewhere, Corero Network Security PLC (LON:CNS) pared early losses to stand 1.8% up at 28p as it announced a fundraise alongside final results, which showed the company's decision to focus exclusively on the SmartWall TDS product was beginning to pay off.

The FTSE 100 Index was 31.75 points down at 6378, having started as high as 6,425.

Oil prices, at around US$45.80 (Brent), remain supportive of equity markets.

Anglo American (LON:AAL) was in focus in early deals, falling 3.4% to 765.4p, as the miner revealed its iron ore operation in Brazil nearly trebled output. Fellow miners Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) and BHP Billiton(LON:BLT) followed closely behind.

The French electronics retailer formerly known as Kesa, Darty (LON:DRTY), sparked nearly a fifth to 157p as suitors Fnac and Steinhoff International both upped their bids for the company.

But broadcaster Sky (LON:SKY) dropped 5% to 976p as it revealed that its turnover of customers had increased amid growing competition from the likes of BT (LON:BT.A).

Sky won fewer new customers in the latest quarter than it had in the preceding three months, but boosted revenue by 5% to £8.7bn in the nine months to March.

Bookie Ladbrokes (LON:LAD) was in the money, up 1.9p at 118.4p, as it revealed encouraging trading despite a rough Cheltenham Festival and a potential £3m bill if Leicester City was to win the Premier League.

LONDON OPEN

The FTSE 100 took a forward step on Thursdays open, albeit a small one, to remain close to the new highs for 2016.

London’s blue chip benchmark start as high as 6,425 before easing to about 6,410 by 8:30am.

Oil prices, at around US$45.80 (Brent), remain supportive of equity markets.

Anglo American was in focus in early deals, rising 2% to 809p, as the miner revealed its iron ore operation in Brazil nearly trebled output. Fellow miners Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) and BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) followed closely behind.

Minnow Strategic Minerals (LON:SML) was another miner celebrating.

It was top riser in London today, up 25.81% to 0.20p as it revealed planning of the maiden drilling programme at Hanns Camp nickel-copper sulphide prospect in Australia  was underway.

Hanns Camp forms part of the Laverton Project, in which Strategic has a stake via its acquisition of up to 50% of Central Australian Rare Earths.

FTSE AIM 100 added 0.17% to 3,450, while the broader FTS AIM All share added 0.22% to 734.96.

Elsewhere, broadcaster Sky (LON:SKY) dropped 3.84% to 988.5p.

It revealed it won fewer new customers in the latest quarter than it had in the preceding three months but notched up a 5% increase in revenue to £8.7bn for the nine months to March.

Indeed, junior miners were doing well on the day. Goldstone Resources (LON:GRL) added over 15% top 2.03p, while copper miner Weatherly International (LON:WTI) gained 14.29% to stand at 0.60p.

Oil stocks were not doing so well.

US onshore focused Northcote Energy (LON:NCT) fell 30% to 0.04p after it announced late yesterday it had completed a placing of 1.59mln shares at 0.0315 pence to raise £500,000.

The cash will be used to complete the Mayan Drilling Fluids remediation plant while retaining adequate working capital and flexibility to consider other strategic opportunities available to the company.

Greka Drilling (LON:GDL) was also down over 11% to 4p each despite it managing to increase revenues in 2015 even with the well-documented travails of the oil and gas sector.

The Asia-focused independent and specialised unconventional oil & gas driller drilled 62 wells in 2015, up from 45 wells drilled in 2014.

Annual revenues rose to US$29.9mln in 2015 from US$24.4mln in 2014, while underlying earnings (EBITDA) rose to US$2.4mln from US$1.9mln,

Corero Network Security PLC (LON:CNS) fell 9.09% to 25p as it announced a fundraise alongside final results, which showed the company's decision to focus exclusively on the SmartWall TDS product was beginning to pay off.

Orders for the SmartWall TDS product in 2015 were up 186% to US$4.3mln from US$1.5mln in 2014

The firm said this morning it had conditionally placed 36.36mln shares at 22p a pop, raising £8mln in the process, and is seeking to raise an additional £1mln through an open offer to shareholders of 4.6mln shares on the basis of 1 new share for every 36 shares held, also at 22p a share.

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