FTSE indices hopped higher ahead of the four-day Easter weekend with gains in oil, supermarket and financial stocks contributing. Wall St fell overnight, but Asian markets firmed. Investors are distracted by Iran nuclear talks, bloodshed in Yemen and the Greek debt soap.

Shortly after the open, FTSE 100 was up 16.23 points, or 0.24%, to 6825.73, while FTSE 250 rose 99.83, or 0.58%, to 17,223.2. At 8.46am, WTI crude was down 0.98% to $49.6/bbl, while Brent eased 0.79% to $56.65/bbl. The market is looking to the US trade balance out midday.

Marks & Spencer (MKS) led blue chips up with a 4.67% rise to 555.25p after it reported strong progress in Q4 with both sales, up 3.7%, and like-for-like sales, up 0.7%, rising in a difficult market. It said the performance as 'strong.' Some distance behind were Morrisons (MRW) and Sainsbury (MRW). Some other consumer-goods and retail-related stocks also rose.

Oil stocks slipped higher behind Cairn Energy (CNE), up 1.55% to 160.35p, with BG (NG.), Tullow Oil (TLW) and Shell (RDSA) following. Financials were led up by Investec (INVP), rising 1.15% to 571.5p, with Barclays (BARC) gaining 0.62% to lead several banks. To the downside, Serco led with a 1.52% fall to 142.4p, with Pearson (PSON) falling 1.25% to 1425p.

Diageo (DGE) rose 0.24% to 1873p on news it was acquiring the 50% of South Africa's United National Breweries' that it does not already own. Tate & Lyle (TATE), up 1.97% to 620p, said based on Q4 trading it expect FY group adjusted pretax profit to be modestly below the range stated in September 2014 of ã230m-ã245m.

BIGGER MOVERS

Arcontech Group (ARC) confirms the signing of a new major client for a minimum of 200 licences for its real-time Excel add-in, Excelerator. Its shares rose 78.57% to 0.25p. Koovs (KOOV) fell 42.55% to 67.5p despite expecting FY sales to be up 268% at ã2.6m. The company said it would be seeking additional funding in due course to accelerate development.

Inetsco (INC) fell 29.41% to 0.06p after its nominated advisor, Cairn Financial Advisors LLP, resigned, effective May 1. INC has one month to appoint a successor or have its shares cancelled. It was already in talks with another nominated advisor.

Inspirit Energy (INSP), up 15.56% to 0.78p, reports progress on several fronts which represents significant advance for the business towards its goal of the commercialisation of its Kinematic Stirling Engine-based micro-combined heat and power (mCHP) technology.

Stanley Gibbons (SGI), down 14.47% to 227.5p, expects its FY results to be materially below market views due to a number of anticipated high-value retail sales ere not completed in the run up to year's end. Motive Television (MTV), down 13.04% to 0.02p, has placed 6.66bn new shares at 0.015p each to raise ã1m for funding the roll out of Tablet TV.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Frontier Resources (FRI), up 9.68% to 0.85p, has been given approval to exchange the phase 1 work commitment of a 3D seismic survey on Block 38 in Oman for an exploration well with a 2D seismic survey.

North Midland Construction (NMD), down 2.07% to 118.5p, said it now expects a materially larger FY pretax loss as a result of these increased accounting provisions. BTG (BTG), up 4.31% to 769.25p, expects FY revenue to be slightly higher than its guidance of ã345m-ã360m, including revenues from the PneumRx acquisition since completion on Jan. 7.

Premier Oil (PMO), Falkland Oil (FOGL) and Rockhopper (RKH) said Zebedee exploration well (14/15b-5) in PL004b discovered 81 feet of net oil-bearing reservoir and 55 feet of net gas-bearing reservoir. PMO rose 5.69% to 141.2p, FOGL fell 1.04% to 35.13p, and RKH added 4.13% to 66.38p.

Mosman Oil & Gas Ltd (MSMN), down 4.56% to 5.13p, is accelerating its drilling programme on its Murchison permit in New Zealand. It has also raised ã0.5m via a placing and subscription of 10m new shares at 5p each by SP Angel Corporate Finance LLP.

Solid State (SOLI), up 4.74% to 662.5p, said its FY results would, as anticipated, be significantly better than last year. However, pretax profit was expected to be at least in line with market expectations although revenue was likely to be slightly lower.

Stocks in the news today included Dunelm's (DNLM), FW Thorpe (TFW), Redcentric (RCN), Compagnie de Saint-Gobain (COD), Forbidden Technologies (FBT) and Akers Biosciences (AKR).