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Thursday movers: Tate & Lyle, Lloyds, Rio Tinto, Gem Diamonds, Sunrise Resources ...

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Another huge merger in the US failed to give much of a boost to shares in London.

Footsie opened 25 points lower at 6,649, though small caps fared a little better with the AIM index seeing a 0.4% gain.

Company news dominated the morning with US cable giant Comcast agreeing a US$46bn (£26bn) merger with its nearest rival Time Warner Cable to create a monster with 30% of the US pay-TV market.

In the UK, Tate & Lyle (LON:TATE) soured the mood early with a very downbeat update that blamed lower sales in its developed markets and a slump in the price of Sucralose. Shares tumbled 15% as the company said profits would be no better than last year.

Lloyds Banking (LON:LLOY) made its first profits since the financial crisis but the numbers were hit by another huge rise in PPI provisions and the cost of floating off its TSB arm.  

Chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio will received a bonus of £1.7mln deferred for five years and there was a heavy hint that the second half of 2014 may see the government try to sell its 33% stake.

Rolls-Royce (LON:RR.) was another big faller as it forecast flat profits in 2014 to follow a very strong performance in the year just ended. Slowing revenues in aerospace and defence were to blame, it said.

Among the mid-caps, Gem Diamonds (LON:GEMD) generated some excitement as it recovered two white diamonds of around 160 carat (ct) each from its Letšeng mine at the end of January.

The two rough diamonds - a 162.06ct type II diamond and a 161.74ct type I diamond - are expected to achieve top prices at Letšeng's February tender and were recovered largely undamaged.

Letšeng has produced four of the top 20 largest white gem quality diamonds since Gem Diamonds acquired the mine in 2006.

Sunrise Resources (LON:SRES) was another diamond company on the move, with news that it had started exploration at its Cue Diamond project sending its shares 15% higher.

Patrick Cheetham, executive chairman said 2013 was very quiet year for the company  but with the outlook improved for 2014, there will be a much higher level of project activity in 2014, both in Australia and elsewhere, “with a number of new project acquisitions in the pipeline.“

Nostra Terra (LON:NTOG) chief executive Matt Lofgran said the Chisholm Trail prospect, in Oklahoma, continues to produce excellent results, adding he expects a significant increase in net production over the coming weeks and months.

The Jones 1-5H well on the Chisholm Trail prospect exceeded Nostra Terra’s expectations by a substantial margin he added with production averaging 521 barrels of oil per day over the most recent ten days. Nostra Terra has a 20% stake in Jones 1-5H, which is operated by Stephens Production.

S&U (LON:SUS), the consumer and motor finance company, has bought the home credit business of Ambassador Financial Services Ltd and that it is continuing to seek additional home credit acquisitions. Ambassador’s home credit business has gross assets of about £0.5mln.

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