Pick of the early market news

Can the good news last? Most stock markets were up last week, with the FTSE 100 finishing 1.81% up on Friday alone. Similar strong gains were made by the French Cac 40 (up 1.52%), German Dax (1.67% up) and the Dow Jones (1.23%). At home, several serious bidders are vying for retailer Peacocks. Abroad, the Greek marathon continues with more bailout talks - but deficit commitment worries still abound.

Let's commence with quarterly and full-year numbers from Randgold - and record profits. Randgold Resources' profit soared 259% to US$433.4 million for 2011. Profits for the fourth quarter of $136.2 million were up 323% on the corresponding quarter in 2010.

Randgold says its board has proposed a $0.40 annual dividend, up 100% on 2010 on the back of the earnings uplift. Total capital expenditure for 2012 will remain high at approximately $660 million. Despite 2011's substantial investment in capital projects, cash in hand increased 33% to $487.6 million year on year.

"Randgold's long-term strategy," says chief exec Mark Bristow, "of building sustainably profitable gold mining businesses through discovery and development continues to pay off. In 2011 we benefited from our investment in growth in previous years, just as the development work we are doing now will reward our stakeholders in years to come."

On the Glencore-Xstrata front, the FT is claiming that Glencore will offer an 8% premium to Xstrata to do the deal. The deal will likely be released tomorrow with Xstrata shareholders in line to receive 2.8 shares in Glencore for each share held. A rate higher than expected by the City.

A deal is likely to be positive news for South Africa, increasingly concerned about the influx of Western investment into the country. It looks likely it would approve the deal. But it's also likely the European Commission will also be giving a deal a good going over too.

As already mentioned, embattled Peacocks have been given a flicker of hope from a Pakistani billionaire. The Telegraph reports that business tycoon Alshair Fiyaz along with Danish investment fund Solstra Capital may put together a second-round bid for the retailer.

However, even if the store was bought, some parts of the chain could still be sold off. And liquidation fears remain strong. KPMG has confirmed the loss of almost 250 jobs from the company's head office.

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