FTSE indices rose to midday, blue chips less than convincingly, as financials and supermarkets behind M&S (MKS) were bid higher ahead of the four-day Easter weekend. Iran nuclear talks, bloodshed in Yemen and the Greek debt soap remain market distractions.

To noon, FTSE 100 was up 9.44 points, or 0.14%, to 6818.94, while FTSE 250 rose 98.77, or 0.58%, to 17,222.2. At 8.46am, WTI crude was down 1.16% to $49.51/bbl, while Brent eased 0.75% to $56.67/bbl. The market is looking to the US trade balance out just after midday, along with stateside factory orders at 2pm.

Marks & Spencer (MKS) led blue chips with a 6.08% rise to 562.75p on making strong progress in Q4 with sales, up 3.7%, and like-for-like sales, up 0.7%, rising in a difficult market. Some distance behind were Sainsbury (SBRY), up 0.77% to 260.1p, and Morrisons (MRW). Tesco (TSCO) fell. Consumer-goods outfits and several retailers also rose.

Financials were led up by ICAP (IAP), up 1.99% to 539p, with Man Group (EMG), up 1.42% to 206.9p, behind. Barclays (BARC), up 1.34% to 252.65p, led banks, and Standard Life (SL.) piloted insurers with a rise of 0.86% to 481.6p. Oil stocks were a mix of risers and fallers, but miners were obviously lower. Vedanta (VED) fell 2.46% to 483.6p with sector pals chasing.

Diageo (DGE) rose 0.29% to 1874p on news it was acquiring the 50% of South Africa's United National Breweries' that it does not already own. Tate & Lyle (TATE), up 2.59% to 623.75p, 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 44.68% to 65p 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. Densitron Technologies (DSN), up 35.48% to 5.25p has reached an agreement with the landlord of a property in Newcastle to surrender the lease for a sum of ã0.4m.

Inspirit Energy (INSP), up 18.52% to 0.8p, 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.

Bacanora Minerals (BCN) rose 14.19% to 88.5p as investors speculated over potential increased demand for its commodity. There's talk that Tesla Motors will soon unveil a new home battery, thereby requiring even more lithium at its nearby factory in Nevada.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Stanley Gibbons (SGI), down 9.96% to 239.5p, 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.

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. Marshall Motor (MMH) accelerates to 163p in debut AIM dealings, having priced its IPO at 149p a share for a ã115m market cap.

Solid State (SOLI), up 6.32% to 672.5p, 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.

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.

Stocks in the news included Dunelm's (DNLM), FW Thorpe (TFW), Redcentric (RCN), Compagnie de Saint-Gobain (COD), Forbidden Technologies (FBT), Akers Biosciences (AKR), North Midland Construction (NMD), Playtech (PTEC), Premier Oil (PMO), Falkland Oil (FOGL) and Rockhopper (RKH).


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