Market Report: Energy explorers boosted by discoveries in Africa

For the energy explorers, Africa was the place to be yesterday. Oil and gas discoveries, promises of tax breaks and even talk of possible takeover activity gave a boost to companies operating in the continent, including Afren, which closed on the mid-tier index's leaderboard.

The group – which is announcing its preliminary results today – climbed 7p to 131p following reports claiming Svenska Petroleum, which is privately owned by the Saudi billionaire (and one of the richest men in the world) Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi, is being put up for sale.

With the Swedish explorer holding assets across West Africa, including in a number of countries where Afren operates, the news prompted Westhouse Securities to claim that a sale could "reignite M&A" across the region.

Pointing out a deal would put a price on reserves, the broker's analyst Andrew Matharu added that "it may even put Afren in the M&A spotlight". The firm is frequently the subject of takeover speculation, as is Bowleven, which was also highlighted by Mr Matharu as a possible beneficiary of revived takeover speculation in the event of a sale of Svenska.

Bowleven – the subject earlier in the year of potential bid interest from Dragon Oil before it walked away – had its own good news to celebrate. The group shifted up 19.44 per cent to 105.5p on AIM after unveiling an increase of its resources estimates for its operations off the shore of Cameroon, while it also announced that first-half losses had dropped to $5.5m (£3.5m), down from $15.7m a year earlier.

These were by no means the only reasons to be cheerful over the Africa-focused explorers, however. Tullow Oil revealed it had discovered black gold in Kenya, the first to be found in the country – another place where Afren has assets. In addition, officials from the Kenyan government said there was a good chance a tax break could be introduced for the sector, as Tullow topped the Footsie by advancing 97p to 1,570p.

Still, that was nothing compared to Ophir Energy's move. It shifted up 18.81 per cent to 477.6p on the mid-tier index after announcing that, together with partner BG (27p higher at 1,519p), it had made a huge gas find off the coast of Tanzania – again where Afren operates.

Takeover speculation has been circling Ophir recently, and although JP Morgan's Jessica Saadat claimed "it may be too early for [the group] to be a takeover target", she pointed out that once the bid battle for Cove Energy (up 4p to 209p) is over, it will be "the only independent of note in East Africa".

After last week ended up being the worst of the year so far, the FTSE 100 managed to bounce 47.81 points higher to 5,902.7. Much of the credit for the rise was being given to US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke, whose latest comments were raising hopes of a third round of quantitative easing.

Smiths Group ticked up 29p to 1,049p after winning a contract worth more than €100m to provide Qatar's New Doha International Airport with security scanning equipment.

A downgrade from HSBC left Icap 8.9p lower at 408.9p. The broker's scribblers changed their rating on the interdealer broker to "underweight", saying there was "little scope for positive surprises" from its upcoming pre-close trading statement.

Down on the FTSE 250, Cable & Wireless Worldwide slumped 0.75p to 36.75p in the wake of reports over the weekend claiming both Vodafone (up 0.7p to 174.3p)and India's Tata Communications want more time to decide whether to make a formal bid ahead of Thursday's "put up or shut up" deadline.

Meanwhile Cable & Wireless Communications, the company from which it demerged in 2010, was helped by a late spurt to close 0.8p better off at 32.97p. The move was accompanied by the revival of vague speculation it could be a takeover target, although traders played the rumours down.

Premier Foods continued its exceedingly good run down on the small-cap index as the debt-laden owner of the Hovis and Mr Kipling brands powered up 15.09 per cent to 15.25p. The group's move was put down to UBS's Alan Erskine raising his price target from just 2p to 10p, saying the likelihood of shareholders having their stake diluted had dropped.

However, the analyst still kept his "sell" advice, saying Premier's current share price "represents too big a leap of faith", while adding that now its bosses face the "hard work" of "re-energising and shrinking [the group's] portfolio".

The news it had signed a major contract with the troubled tour operator Thomas Cook (down 0.25p to 22.5p) saw Anite fly up 10.25p to 128p, while the software firm also said its full-year profits would at least be towards the higher end of the Square Mile's forecasts.

FTSE 100 Risers

* Aberdeen Asset Management 260.8p (up 10.9p, 4.36 per cent) Fund manager finishes high up the Footsie after announcing its clients put in £1.4bn of new money over the first two months of 2012.

l International Power 382.4p (up 9.6p, 2.58 per cent) Energy group rises as it reveals it is getting rid of its 17.4 per cent stake in Pakistan's Hubco while raising its holdings in power station Uch 1 to nearly 95 per cent.

FTSE 100 Fallers

* Polymetal International 935p (down 25.5p, 2.66 per cent) Russian gold digger sets a new four-month low, with its latest fall meaning its share price has now shed more than 20 per cent since February.

l Royal Bank of Scotland 27.75p (down 0.28p, 1 per cent) Bank retreats following the news that its private banking business Coutts has been fined £8.75m by the Financial Services Authority.

FTSE 250 Risers

* EasyJet 495.8p (up 34.4p, 7.46 per cent) Budget airline predicts it will post a smaller first-half loss than many in the City are expecting, as Numis Securities raises its rating to "hold" from "reduce".

l Ruspetro 203.7p (up 14p, 7.38 per cent) Russia-focused oil producer jumps after analysts from Credit Suisse initiate coverage by giving it an "outperform" recommendation and a 332p target price.

FTSE 250 Fallers

* Amlin 337.3p (down 3.4p, 1 per cent) London's largest listed Lloyd's insurer finishes deep in the red after scribblers from Nomura downgrade their recommendation from "buy" to "neutral".

l Dixons Retail 19.4p (down 0.15p, 0.77 per cent) Electricals chain – which has seen its share price add nearly 38 per cent over the previous two weeks – eases back as investors decide to bank profits.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
newsJohn Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
News
i100
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

PMO Analyst - London - Banking - £350 - £400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Banking - London - £350 -£400 per d...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

Test Lead - London - Investment Banking

£475 - £525 per day: Orgtel: Test Lead, London, Investment Banking, Technical ...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games