3 Shares Set to Beat the FTSE Today

LONDON -- After soaring yesterday and smashing through the 6,000 level, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) is having a bit of a breather today, up about eight points to 6,035. Still, thanks to the U.S. fiscal-cliff deal, the markets are off to a good start this year.

Of course, in the long run, it is the performance of companies, not politicians, that matters. Here are three constituents of the FTSE indexes that are on the way up today.

Chemring (LSE: CHG  )
Chemring Group shares have gained 7% after the company announced the appointment of a new finance director and a new director of human resources. Steve Bowers, formerly finance director at Umeco, will take over the role from interim finance director Nigel Young on Jan. 7, with Jim Devine taking up the HR position on the same day.

Any improvement in the price has to be good news after the defense engineer's shares slumped in October. After a recent upward blip, the price is down about 35% over the past 12 months.

Northern Petroleum (LSE: NOP  )
It was good news for explorer Northern Petroleum today, with the share price rising 1.3% to 54.7 pence on news that the company's GM-ES-3 well in the Guyane Maritime Permit was spudded on Dec. 29. Northern only has a small interest in the license, which is operated principally by Royal Dutch Shell, Total, and Tullow Oil.

Northern Petroleum shares have not had a great year, falling around 30% over the past 12 months.

Balfour Beatty (LSE: BBY  )
Shares in infrastructure engineer Balfour Beatty gained a fairly modest 1.2% to reach 284 pence after the company told us it had acquired Subsurface Group, an American energy-storage business.

Balfour Beatty's shares famously slumped in November after the firm published warnings about its markets and expected performance, but since then they have slowly been creeping back, regaining about 20% so far.

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