A reversal in oil prices as industry strikes in Kuwait draw to a close is putting pressure on the resources heavy FTSE 100. The index is down 21.26 points at 6,384.09 this morning.
Microprocessor designer ARM (ARM) heads the FTSE 100 leaderboard, up 2.7% to 990p, as chief executive Simon Segars says a step-up in research and development investment is on track to deliver shareholder value. First quarter revenue is better than expected up 14% in dollar terms, or 22% measured in sterling, compared to the same quarter last year.
Specialist fit fashion retailer N Brown's (BWNG) shares slim 11.2% to 280.3p despite in-line finals from the Jacamo-to-JD Williams brand owner showing improved second half profits. Disappointment centres on the outlook, a profit warning in all but name, N Brown flagging weak sales since its February year-end and downgrading current year margin guidance amid a £3 million currency headwind and the need to clear aged stock.
Miner BHP Billiton (BLT) bucks the negative trend in the resources sector, up 1.8% to 982.1p as it reports it is on track to deliver and average unit cost improvement of 14% across its major assets as it continues to realise productivity gains.
Pub group Punch Taverns (PUB) gains 7.2% to 104p as it posts a 3% rise in the average profit per pub in the six months to 5 March, following the sale of 158 non-core sites. The company says its retail division is performing ahead of expectations and it's on track to have 100 retail pubs open by the end of the year. Net debt has reduced by £191 million, or 14%, in the first half.
Plastic additives specialist Symphony Environmental (SYM:AIM) plummets 11.8% to 3.8p after its loss before tax widens from £0.39 million to £2.31 million in 2015 as major investments in marketing and development fail to lift revenues. The group has carried out a strategic review which will reduce operating costs by £750,000 in 2016, lower the board's remuneration and increase the focus on products which it hopes will create shorter-term value for shareholders.
GKN (GKN) says aerospace and automotive end-markets are in decent shape, helping shares gain 0.4% to 296p. Aerospace sales were flat in the first quarter of 2016 because of tough comparisons in the prior year, while automotive sales gained 4% against industry-wide growth of 1%. Agriculture is flagged as one of the big weak spots, which led to a 6% dip in sales growth in GKN's Land Systems division.
Distributor Bunzl (BNZL) dips 0.5% to £20.48 as its bolt-on acquisition drive continues to deliver. First quarter revenue gained 10% at constant exchange rates, with 5% a result of organic growth and 5% from businesses acquired over the last 12 months. New chief executive Frank van Zanten, previously head of Bunzl's continental Europe business, will take over from outgoing boss Mike Roney following an annual general meeting today.
One-time home shopping specialist-turned-investment company Flying Brands (FBDU) soars 29.4% higher to 2.75p on news it is 'hopeful of concluding a transaction in th near future' on one particular investment project and that it has already recovered some of the £78,000 misappropriated in a recent bank account fraud.
GB Group (GBG) jumps 6% to 289p despite the announcement that chief executive officer Richard Law is to leave the business after 13 years in charge of the Chester-based identity data specialist. Strong trading helps investors digest the news, as a trading update says full-year results will be ahead of expectations. Revenue gained 27% in the 12 months to 31 March and adjusted operating profit was up 24% to £13.4 million.