Pick of the early market news

Positive QE remarks from the US Fed sparked a global rally yesterday. The FTSE 100 surged 1.34% to 5,710 points. GKN was the biggest FTSE 100 climber, 6.16% up at 203p; Barclays also rose sharply (5.35%).

Proportionately, the Dow Jones saw the biggest lift, rising 1.41% to 12,986 points. Asian markets remained up overnight, despite lower Chinese growth numbers.
Let's start with Xstrata. The mining giant has issued a statement confirming a slowdown in the widely criticised Xstrata/Glencore merger deal, with documentation to shareholders being knocked back to the end of May rather than April, as previously hoped.

"The companies continue to expect to receive all relevant approvals to enable completion of the merger in the third quarter of 2012, as previously announced," Xstrata says. "Documentation relating to the merger is now anticipated to be distributed to each company's shareholders by the end of May 2012 instead of in April as originally announced on 7 February, 2012."

Shareholder meetings - a clutch of major institutional shareholders remain highly concerned - to approve a merger are expected early July 2012; the Takeovers and Mergers Panel has given its consent to the arrangements.

Next, a new setback for Premier Oil. The oil and gas player says it's abandoning its Indonesian Biawak Besar 1x exploration well, confirmed boss Simon Lockett in a statement. The well had reached a total depth of 5,950 feet and will be plugged and abandoned.

"The first three months of 2012 has seen much activity on the Premier-operated Natuna Sea Block A," Lockett says. "Continuing exploration on Block A will now focus on the exploitation and significant follow on potential of the Anoa Deep well."

In the UK Lockett says the exploration focus is now on its Stingray well "which is currently drilling and the Carnaby well, which we expect to spud soon."

Finally in the US, Google has posted bullish first quarter results. First quarter earnings climbed 60% to $2.89bn year-on-year. Gross revenues climbed 24%. Google's cost-per-click revenues slipped again for the second consecutive quarter, now down 12% year-on-year; a likely cause is the increased shift to mobile devices.

Unusually, Google announced a stock split giving Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page life-long control of the company - the first for a large US public company. Interesting corporate governance. (Will investors like it?)

Google has given no guidance on whether it will launch its own iPad-type tablet to take on Apple.

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