Platinum Firm Gleams Ahead Of ECB, OPEC Outcomes

London (Jun 2) Stocks in the  London  market were trading tentatively higher midday Thursday with  Johnson Matthey   shares doing particularly well after its full-year results, as investors awaited the outcomes of  ECB  and  OPEC  meetings.

 Platinum and specialty chemicals company  Johnson Matthey  pointed to a better year ahead, as pretax profit fell amid tough market conditions in the financial year that ended in March, underlining that optimism with a raised dividend.

 Underlying pretax profit, stripping out one-offs, was  GBP418.2 million  , down from  GBP440.1 million  the year earlier but ahead of the market consensus estimate of  GBP414.8 million  .

 Shares in the company were up 3.8%, making it the top gainer in the  FTSE  100 index.

 Johnson Matthey  , which makes emission control systems, catalysts and fine chemicals, said the structural drivers for its key operations remain robust for the current financial year, despite challenging macroeconomic conditions which weighed on its performance in financial 2016 continuing.

 The group expects its Emission Control Technologies business to be slightly ahead year-on-year in the 2017 financial year, benefiting from vehicle production growth in  Europe  and  Asia  and good demand for trucks in  Western Europe  . This will be slightly held back by lower demand for heavy-duty diesel catalysts for large trucks in  North America  , which will hit the first half performance of the division.

 Johnson Matthey  anticipates its Fine Chemicals business will continue to perform well, driven by its active pharmaceutical ingredients manufacturing business in the US and increased capacity coming on line in  Europe  .

 Overall, the company said its results in the 2017 financial year should be ahead of the recently ended year, in line with market expectations.

 The  FTSE  100 index was up 0.5%, or 27.64 points, to 6,219.57. The  FTSE  250 index was down 0.1% to 17,039.17, while the AIM All-Share was up 0.4% at 739.86.

 In  Europe  , the CAC 40 in  Paris  was flat, and the DAX 30 in  Frankfurt  was up 0.1%.

 Ahead of the open on  Wall Street  , futures pointed the Dow 30 and S&P 500 down 0.1% and the Nasdaq 100 flat.

 Investors attention will be on events in the Austrian capital of  Vienna  where the  European Central Bank  and  Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries  are hosting their respective policy meetings.

 First up is the  ECB's  monetary policy decision at  1245 BST  , followed by a press conference with President  Mario Draghi  at  1330 BST  . The central bank is widely expected to make no changes to its monetary policy, having introduced broad new measures in March.

 OPEC  is scheduled to hold a press conference with the acting secretary general at  1500 BST  . Expectations for an agreement on a production freeze are low amid tensions between rivals  Saudi Arabia  and  Iran  .

 "  OPEC  is getting its wish for higher oil prices, though not through any fault of its own. Nothing is expected today, but the tensions between  Iran  and  Saudi Arabia  are such that the risk of a further increase in Saudi output can't be ruled out and with it, the risk of a temporary downward correction in prices," said  Kit Juckes  , global fixed income strategist at  Societe Generale  .

 At midday, oil prices were making slim gains. Brent crude traded at  USD49.74  a barrel, a touch above the  USD49.62  a barrel seen at the  London  equities close on Wednesday.

 This was supporting oil stocks, with  Royal Dutch Shell   'B' shares up 1.5% and  BP   up 1.4%.

 Oil prices will be in focus again later in the afternoon, with the  US Energy Information Administration's  crude oil stocks due at  1600 BST  .

 Elsewhere in the economic calendar, in the US, Challenger jobs cuts are at  1230 BST  , ADP employment is at  1315 BST  , and initial and continuing jobless claims are at  1330 BST  .

 Bank of England Governor Mark Carney  speaks at the unveiling of the new  GBP5  note at  Blenheim Palace  in  Oxfordshire  at  1400 BST  .

 On the  London Stock Exchange  , price comparison service   Group led  FTSE  250 fallers after Jefferies downgraded the stock to Hold from Buy, with a price target cut to  312.00 pence  from 440.00p. The stock traded down 6.3% to 310.10p.

 Investec  shares were down 1.6%, after the Anglo-South African financial services group said it will raise funds through a placing to back a share buyback.

 Investec said it plans to raise up to around  GBP145.0 million  via the placing, which will be carried out through an accelerated bookbuild handled by bookrunner  JPMorgan Cazenove  .

 The funds raised will be used to fund a buyback of sterling and rand preference shares in the company, with any proceeds not directed to this used for general corporate purposes.

 Gene and cell therapy company  Oxford Biomedica   , up 4.0%, said it has signed a research and development collaboration deal with Green Cross LabCell.

 Green Cross LabCell is a subsidiary of South Korean biopharmaceutical firm  Green Cross Holdings  .

 Under the agreement, the pair will focus on identifying and developing gene-modified natural killer cell-based therapeutics for treatment of life-threatening diseases, including cancer. The two will share the costs of the collaboration equally.

Source: KitcoNews