WH Smith was a strong riser after Investec reiterated its 'buy' rating on the stock and raised its target price from 1,200p to 1,400p ahead of its first-half results on April 10th. The broker said is expects "High Street to show a modest improvement and Travel to benefit from the cyclical recovery that seems to be coming in UK air passenger numbers".
Broker Goldman Sachs gave Cairn Energy a lift after upgrading the stock from 'hold' to 'buy', saying the risk/reward balance appears to be worthwhile.
Enquest climbed after Canaccord Genuity reiterated its 'buy' target and raised its target price from 165p to 175p, after it yesterday revealed the realised average price per barrel of oil sold last year decreased 1.7% to $109.7 and said profit from operations before tax and net finance costs dropped 7.5% to $374.8m, hit by a sharp rise in costs.
Meanwhile, oil and gas company Afren declined sharply after profit before tax from continuing operations fell to $318.1m for the year ended December 31st 2013 compared to $568.9m the previous year, largely as a result of impairments and losses booked in the year and additional payables for residual profit interest due on its fields, it explained. Normalised pre-tax profit declined to $483m from $637m while revenue increased 5% to a record $1.6bn following increased production mostly from the Ebok field, offshore Nigeria.
Online gaming group 888 continued to retreat from recent strong gains which came after it earlier this week posted a strong performance and a highly cash generative year, which prompted the proposal of an extra one-off dividend of 7.0 cents per share on top of a final dividend of 4.0 cents.
Similarly, Partnership Assurance and Just Retirement Group retreated from yesterday's strong climb which saw both stocks soar alongside others in the sector following last week's major sell-off, which itself came on the back of the government's decision to bin compulsory annuities for pensioners.
FTSE 250 - Risers
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,226.00p +3.81%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 173.10p +3.59%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 330.70p +3.02%
Evraz (EVR) 70.85p +2.38%
Hellermanntyton Group (HTY) 318.40p +2.05%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 673.00p +1.89%
EnQuest (ENQ) 129.50p +1.65%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 809.00p +1.63%
Man Group (EMG) 100.60p +1.56%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 323.60p +1.54%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Afren (AFR) 144.20p -4.38%
Just Retirement Group (JRG) 135.20p -3.70%
888 Holdings (888) 153.60p -3.09%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 240.80p -3.02%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 130.00p -2.99%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 600.00p -2.68%
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 100.00p -2.34%
Telecity Group (TCY) 694.00p -2.32%
Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust (ASL) 1,142.00p -2.23%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 67.50p -2.17%