After a poor start to the day, the FTSE 250 had rebounded to be up 3.95 points (0.02%) at 16,150.93 by mid-afternoon Tuesday.
Tullow Oil surged as oil prices
stayed above $30 a barrel, compounded by a Bloomberg survey of traders that believed the company was a likely takeover target. At 1416 GMT, Brent crude had risen 1.61% to $30.99 while West Texas Intermediate was up 1.45% to $30.78.
"When we consider that the fundamental factors at play - increased Iraq output, the return of Iran to the market and another rout in China overnight - it would not be unreasonable to expect broad declines in oil today, given how this year has gone so far," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda. "Instead the dip has so far been bought which suggests to me that a move back towards $36.50 may be on the cards for both Brent and WTI."
Housebuilder Crest Nicholson saw shares
rise as it beat profit expectations for the full year on sales revenues rising 26% to £804.8m and said it was confident of meeting its target of £1bn for the new financial year.
Pre-tax profits rose 32% to £154m in the year to 31 October as gross margins, hitherto a concern for some analysts, slipped only slightly to 27.5% from the previous year's 28.6% due to a lower contribution from higher-margin projects. Profits were supported by net inflation gains and the benefits of increased acquisition margins and a growing proportion of units sourced from strategic land, while average selling prices were slightly higher than forecast, up 10% to £309,000. Earnings per share were up 25% on the prior year to 49.3p, while the board has hiked the dividend 38% to 19.7p.
Pub operator Marston's also posted a positive set of results, after it reported record Christmas sales on Tuesday, as like-for-like sales grew 3% over the quarter. In a trading update for the 16-week period to 23 January, Marston's said sales in the key two week Christmas trading period to 2 January were up 4.9% despite tough comparatives.
Operating margins were ahead of last year and the company said it was on track to open at least 20 new pub-restaurants and five lodges in the current financial year, with seven pub and three lodge openings expected in the first half. In the taverns divisions, managed and franchised pub LFL sales were 2.7% ahead of the previous year, with 5% growth over the Christmas fortnight. In the brewing division, own-brewed beer volumes were up 21% in the year to date, underpinned by a strong performance in off-licenses.
Meanwhile PZ Cussons' half year results were hit by foreign exchange, with a small dip in reported revenue and a 3.7% drop in profit before tax. In a trading update for the six months to 30 November 2015, the company reported revenue dropped 0.2% to £385.9m, however on a constant currency basis it rose 9.6%.
The company said a strong performance in Europe was driven by the UK washing and bathing division with a continuous innovation pipeline and the launch of a new range of Carex bodywash products. The Europe beauty division was also boosted by a new in shower gradual tan lotion from St Tropez and a new range of Sanctuary products. However, Europe's success was offset by a difficult trading environment in Nigeria and the impact of weaker currencies in Asia and Africa. As a result, the group's profit before tax dropped from a 2.1% increase on a constant currency basis to a contraction of 3.7% on a reported basis to £42.1m.
FTSE 250 - Risers
Tullow Oil (TLW) 151.70p 8.13%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 204.00p 7.37%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 539.50p 5.27%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 329.00p 4.84%
Marston's (MARS) 157.40p 4.45%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 122.90p 4.24%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 184.10p 4.01%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 288.50p 2.96%
Keller Group (KLR) 800.00p 2.83%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 608.50p 2.79%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
PZ Cussons (PZC) 249.00p -8.99%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 261.90p -3.54%
Allied Minds (ALM) 278.00p -3.24%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 1,558.00p -2.93%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 361.90p -2.40%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 384.70p -2.26%
Weir Group (WEIR) 824.50p -2.25%
Jimmy Choo (CHOO) 120.40p -2.11%
Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) 289.90p -2.06%
Zoopla Property Group (WI) (ZPLA) 210.70p -2.00%