Mears, the social housing repairs and maintenance provider, slid 2.7 per cent to 248¼p after chairman Bob Holt sold his entire holding of 2m shares at 250p each.

Mr Holt sold the stake immediately after picking up 1.5m shares by exercising options.

Mr Holt’s sale followed results from Mears on Wednesday, in which the group delivered 11 per cent annual earnings growth and gave a confident outlook.

Palm oil refinery Biofutures lost 9.1 per cent to 3.7p on news that David Yeoh, its executive chairman since 2007, had resigned with immediate effect.

Inspired Energy, a fuel use consultant that floated on Aim in November, was up 10.3 per cent to 4p after saying its order book climbed to a record £4.9m in January.

“We believe the outlook for the company is positive and recent M&A activity within its peer group demonstrates the shares are undervalued,” said Shore Capital.

Cove Energy rallied from opening lows to end unchanged at 205p after ONGC Videsh of India (OVL) played down reports that it and Gas Authority of India (GAIL) had decided not to bid for the explorer unless they get special preference from the Mozambique government.

OVL said the quoted comments had been “incorrectly attributed to people working at or with GAIL and/or OVL” and added that it was still evaluating a possible offer for Cove.

Shanta Gold bounced 18.6 per cent to 26¼p, having slumped on Thursday after the group warned of a funding gap, and said it was in advanced talks with a London-based group over a $20m cash injection in exchange for royalties or offtakes.

House broker Fairfax kept “buy” advice, even though it saw the potential investment as reducing the chances that Shanta would become a takeover target.

Falklands explorer Borders & Southern Petroleum rose 9.6 per cent to 68½p amid talk of progress at its first well. The group last week delayed results from the Darwin prospect due to technical problems with its rig.

Similarly speculative talk of interest from a Chinese predator lifted Gulfsands Petroleum, up 7.1 per cent to 135p.

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