London close: Stocks rise on low volumes

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LONDON (ShareCast) - - Trading light as US celebrates Thanksgiving
- Focus shifts to EU summit
- SABMiller (Dusseldorf: 981602.DU - news) jumps; 'Glenstrata' merger approved

With trading volumes light owing to Thanksgiving, upbeat Chinese manufacturing data saw UK markets finish Thursday's session with decent gains in spite of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Eurozone.

Research analyst Joshua Mahony from Alpari said: "Today marks the holiday of Thanksgiving in the US, bringing lowered volumes in the market. Tomorrow will be a half day for many too which typically is taken as a day off to create a four-day weekend. Therefore the higher volatility associated with lower volumes is expected through tomorrow."

The 'flash' HSBC (LSE: HSBA.L - news) Chinese purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the month of October came in at 50.4, up from 49.5 for the previous month. That constitutes a thirteen-month high.

Financial sales trader Matthew Nelson from Spreadex said this morning: "News that manufacturing output had risen in China for the first time in more than a year helped to underpin sentiment in the East and the figures have also aided the prospects of UK metals and energy companies with the bulk of this morning's shift coming from the two sectors."

However, data from the Eurozone was less cheery today, with the single-currency region heading for its weakest quarter since the height of the financial crisis in 2009, according to the latest figures from Markit. The Eurozone composite PMI was little-changed in November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) , up fractionally from 45.7 in October to 45.8.

Meanwhile, French bank Societe Generale (Paris: FR0000130809 - news) has forecast that Spain will stay in recession and not return to economic growth until 2015.

Elsewhere, the EU summit started today as leaders look to establish a new long-term budget for the 2014-2020 period. Alpari analyst Mahony said: "The meeting pulls together the leaders of each of the 27 European Union member states and is expected to be a rather frosty affair given the propensity those involved to use the meeting as a show of strength to their domestic electorate."

FTSE 100 (FTSE Index: EO100.FGI - news) : SABMiller jumps after first-half beat

SABMiller, one of the world's largest brewers, rose into the top spot after it managed to beat analysts' forecasts in the first half as its hiked its interim dividend by 12 per cent. The company reported revenue of $17,476m in the six months to the end of September, up 11% on $15,688m reported the year before, and better than the $16,940m that Charles Stanley was expecting.

Mining (Euronext: SMI.NX - news) stocks were also performing well today on the back of the Chinese manufacturing data: Vedanta, ENRC, Glencore, Xstrata (Other OTC: XSRAF.PK - news) and Kazakhmys (Other OTC: KZMYF.PK - news) were among the best risers. Glencore and Xstrata in particular were given a boost by the news the European Commission has cleared the merger between the two.

Steel giant EVRAZ was also a high riser after announcing that it is to sell its Russian railcar operating subsidiary EvrazTrans to Russian freight rail operator NefteTransService for around $300m as it divests of non-core assets.

Following a sharp fall yesterday after its first-half figures, chemicals group Johnson Matthey (EUREX: JMAF.EX - news) rebounded after Credit Suisse (NYSEArca: CSMA - news) upgraded the stock from 'neutral' to 'outperform' and lifted its target price from 2,300p to 2,400p. The broker said: "We think the short-term negatives have now been flagged and are in the share price. Mid-term, we forecast good growth, and believe the shares are at a reasonable price."

Global (Chicago Options: ^RJSGTRUSD - news) insurer RSA also rose after it said it has appointed financial services stalwart Martin Scicluna as its new Chairman. He will join the board on January 1st 2013 and succeeds John Napier who is stepping down at the end of the year after a decade in the post.

Morrison achieved positive sales in the four weeks to November 10th, for the first time since August. They rose by 0.3% (last two months: -0.5%, -1.3%), boosted by a number of promotions, including a 15p litre fuel promotion and the £30 Christmas shop coupons, analysts at Seymour Pierce said, citing the latest survey data from Nielsen. However, "we suspect this has come at a cost to margin," they added.

FTSE 250 (FTSE: ^FTMC - news) : Man Group (LSE: EMG.L - news) rises on report of fund experiment

Fund manager Man Group advanced today after the Financial Times reported that it has moved $1.5bn of its flagship fund AHL into a new portfolio in order to raise returns.

Chemring was higher after it was reported that a subsidiary of the company was awarded a $4.4m contract for the manufacture of decoy devices for the US Air Force.

Defence group Cobham (LSE: COB.L - news) rose after its aviation division secured a multi-million dollar extension on a contract to fly miners to remote parts of Western Australia.

Iron ore producer Ferrexpo (Other OTC: FEEXF.PK - news) was also making decent gains following an analyst dinner yesterday. According to Financial Times Alphaville, analysts at Numis said that the meeting "affirmed our view further of this conservative business that continues to drive itself up the product quality chain and down the cost curve." The broker noted that the stock is trading at a "subdued" 3.2 times earnings and 0.8 times net asset value, "below its peers".

Talvivaara shares dropped one day after the company received a permit to restart the metals recovery plant at its Sotkamo nickel mine where it suffered a leak. It said it expects full production to resume by November 25th.


FTSE 100 - Risers
SABMiller (Xetra: 861038 - news) (SAB (LSE: SAB.L - news) ) 2,801.00p +6.38%
Evraz (EVR) 237.30p +4.86%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,289.00p +4.52%
Melrose (Other OTC: MLSPF.PK - news) (MRO) 215.00p +2.63%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 263.40p +2.49%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 113.50p +2.34%
Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW.L - news) (TLW) 1,396.00p +2.27%
Compass Group (Other OTC: CMPGF.PK - news) (CPG) 714.00p +2.07%
Glencore International (GLEN) 340.70p +1.98%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI (Berlin: CDD.BE - news) ) (IAG) 168.10p +1.88%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,108.00p -1.07%
Pearson (Dusseldorf: PES.DU - news) (PSON) 1,175.00p -0.59%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL (Shenzhen: 002105.SZ - news) .) 766.00p -0.58%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 158.30p -0.53%
Standard Life (Other OTC: SLFPF.PK - news) (SL.) 306.80p -0.52%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,303.00p -0.22%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 670.50p -0.15%
Babcock International Group (BAB (OTC BB: BABB.OB - news) ) 974.50p -0.15%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,071.50p -0.12%
Fresnillo (Berlin: FNL.BE - news) (FRES) 1,965.00p -0.10%

FTSE 250 - Risers
Man Group (EMG) 77.50p +6.09%
Chemring Group (CHG) 229.20p +5.62%
Savills (LSE: SVS.L - news) (SVS) 438.00p +4.01%
Soco International (Berlin: OCS1.BE - news) (SIA (SES: E1:C6L.SI - news) ) 373.40p +3.38%
Ferrexpo (Berlin: FEX.BE - news) (FXPO) 214.70p +3.27%
Dixons Retail (Other OTC: DSITF.PK - news) (DXNS) 25.80p +3.20%
BTG (Xetra: 908827 - news) (BTG) 352.10p +3.19%
Cobham (COB) 202.50p +3.05%
Fenner (Xetra: 864296 - news) (FENR) 385.50p +2.80%
Bovis Homes Group (Berlin: 44B.BE - news) (BVS) 513.00p +2.60%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Talvivaara Mining Company (TALV) 99.95p -3.71%
Ruspetro (RPO) 84.00p -3.45%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 765.00p -2.98%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 65.95p -2.73%
Bumi (BUMI) 259.80p -2.62%
Mitchells & Butlers (LSE: MAB.L - news) (MAB) 328.40p -2.55%
Homeserve (LSE: HSV.L - news) (HSV) 239.60p -2.20%
Pace (Berlin: PG7.BE - news) (PIC) 180.90p -2.06%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 369.90p -1.94%
Kenmare Resources (Xetra: 877923 - news) (KMR) 32.36p -1.94%

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