Philip Salter
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THERE is a lot of speculation surrounding oil explorer Rockhopper. With takeover talks lingering, it could only be a matter of time before an announcement is made. However, we have seen this stock rally from 30p to over 500p, and then drop like a stone to 150p, so the only thing we know for sure is that nothing is certain. But as the old adage goes: buy on rumour, sell on fact. It could be a similar scenario here. Capital Spreads quotes 343.8p-346.2p.

BP shares have had a good run since early October, as the price of crude has rallied sharply over this time. However, the stock has struggled to make much progress of late. It has been unable to break convincingly above 477p/480p, the 50 per cent retracement of the sell-off, following the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Results are due out on 7 February, but there is uncertainty over the size of the settlement for the Gulf accident and this is capping gains. GFT is quoting 474.9p-475p for BP cash.

WH Smith’s Christmas update on Wednesday will be of interest to shareholders looking to see whether the retailer bucked the trend over the festive season and had a boost in trading. On the other hand, the likes of Amazon and other online stationers could have had a serious impact on footfall for the high street chain. The technicals support a bullish trend, so let’s see if the store can pencil in a strong set of results. Capital Spreads quotes a price of 538.8p-540.7p.

The FTSE has broken through its near term resistance around the 5,720 area and on Monday it even recorded a new high for the year. With clients remaining sceptical that the strength can continue – they remain bearish overall – are they set for more pain as the index rises further? Capital Spreads quotes a price of 5,775.0-5,776.0 for the UK 100 index.

Easyjet gives a trading update on Thursday and investors will be keen to see how the airline is doing during these tough economic times. The stock has performed well since October 2011 as people are reluctant to give up their annual holidays and trade down to budget airlines in a bid to save money. Capital Spreads quotes 419.8p-421.7p for Easyjet’s share price.

Has Europe risked price stability by banning Iranian oil imports from July onwards? This had been on the cards for a few weeks, so the price of black gold hasn’t jumped up too much on the announcement. The question now will be whether we can expect a strong policy reaction from Tehran? Making good on its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz would be the worst case for anyone in need of cheaper oil. IG Markets $5 mini contract for April delivery is priced $1,1047-$1,1056.

Cairn Energy has had a torrid time in the last couple of years, as it shifted its focus away from India towards drilling in Greenland. Now that it has sold a large part of Cairn India and has almost $5bn sitting on its books, the oil explorer has decided to return capital back to its shareholders. With the stock going ex-dividend on 6 February for the princely sum of 160p per share, the stock could improve further from current levels as income hunters begin to pile in. ETX Capital quotes 295.2p-296.1p for the rolling daily contract.

After its late December slide to $1,524, gold has rallied hard, adding on an impressive $150 in just three weeks. Major hurdles at $1,664 and $1,674 were cleared on Monday, opening up a run at the $1,700 and maybe even $1,720 level, where it may well run out of steam and retrace back to $1,674. Spread Co offers a spread on spot gold of $1,675.5 - $1,675.9