London shares slump into the red for a third straight day in early trade on Tuesday as ongoing concerns about Greece are added to but a hefty sell-off in China and caution ahead of inflation data.
The FTSE 100 index is trading around 35 points lower, or 0.5%, at 6,675 early on, after hitting a three-month closing low of 6,710.52 on Monday.
Midcaps and the wider market are similarly off, the FTSE 250 trading at 17,645, while the FTSE All Share drops to 3,641.
In corporate news, US-focused equipment rental specialist Ashtead (AHT) is among the leading Footsie losers, down 1.9% to £11.06, despite rental revenue growing 24% and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) gaining 35% in the fourth quarter. Similar performance continued through May, chief executive Geoff Drabble says in a full-year results update.
Leisure group Whitbread (WTB) is also lower, falling 1.4% to £49.70, after a soft first quarter in the London hotel and provincial restaurants markets. Like-for-like sales in its Premier Inn and Costa businesses grew by 6.3% and 5% respectively in the 13 weeks to 28 May and the company says it is on track to deliver its growth milestones.
Royal Mail (RMG) is in the news again, this time because regulator Ofcom says it is launching ‘a fundamental review of the regulation of the Royal Mail’. The investigation was prompted by the withdrawal of rival Whistl from the national mail market last month and may include restrictions on stamp prices.
Among the bigger movers, Thor Mining (THR:AIM) falls 22% to 0.07p after raising £525,000 through issuing new shares at 0.05p, a 44% discount to last night's closing price. Participating investors also get one warrant to buy further shares at 0.075p for every two shares taken in the placing. The money will help advance its Spring Hill gold project.
Energy supplier and CHP boiler designer Flowgroup (FLOW:AIM) collapses following a European Court of Justice ruling that the UK's reduced 5% rate of VAT on energy-saving products was in breach of EU laws. This will massively impact the firm's ability to meet boiler installation targets this year, and forces the company to accelerate cost cuts. The shares crash 37% to 15.5p.
Emergency power supplier APR Energy (APR) is also a heavy faller, down 35% to 228p, after issuing a damaging profit warning.
Going the other way is Enteq Upstream (NTQ:AIM), down 10.5% to 17p, as full year losses widen to $47.2 million from a $11.5 million deficit a year ago. It is also taking a hefty $39.5 million impairment charge and $0.9 million bad debt provision.
W Resources (WRES:AIM) is also higher, up 8% to 0.34p, as it completes the mine development study at La Parrilla Mine in Spain. This delivers a significant opportunity for the company to hike overall production. It proposes developing the mine in two stages.
Italy-focused E&P Sound Oil (SOU:AIM) dives 10.1% to 14.5p as a second appraisal well on its Nervesa discovery fails to deliver commercial hydrocarbons. The company also announces it has secured environmental approval for the offshore D503-BR-CS permit, in the Adriatic Sea, which contains the Dora and Dalla prospects.
Small cap oily Europa Oil & Gas (EOG:AIM) gains 7.7% to 8.75p after an independent report by consultant ERC Equipoise on its Irish assets in the Porcupine basin identifies unrisked net present value of $1.6 billion.
Elsewhere, High-flying funeral services operator Dignity (DTY), a running Shares Play of the Week, sheds 2p to £20.58 on the proposed £38 million acquisition of 36 funeral locations from Laurel Funerals. The cash generative company is buying 36 of Laurel's 83 locations, only ones which complement its geographic spread, in order to avoid any potential competition concerns. You can read my recent Griller interview with Dignity CEO Mike McCollum here.
Domino's Pizza (DOM) franchise DP Poland (DPP:AIM) is down 3.6% to 16.8p after placing 34.8 million new shares to raise £5.5 million in order to fund its expansion. The group plans to open 20 corporately-owned stores in 2016/17 and have 80 stores by 2020.
Chinese lottery group DJI (DJI:AIM) slips 2.8% to 68.5p after saying there is no indication of how long the March 2015 temporary suspension of online lottery sales in China will last. Online lottery sales historically represented 96% of the group's total sales. The group narrowed its pre-tax loss from £7.2 million to £3 million in 2014.
The sobering prospect of approaching endgame in the current episode of the Greek bailout drama weighed on southern housebuilder Crest Nicholson (CRST). The shares shed 3% to 528p despite the Chertsey-headquartered £1.4 billion cap posting a 51% increase in pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of April.
Heavy construction specialist Kier (KIE) is another victim of wider market concerns and nudges 1.4% lower to £14.18 despite the £1.4 billion cap's announced contract wins worth £247 million to the contractor.
Israeli online gaming advertising play XLMedia (XLM:AIM) is up 3.9% to 61.8p as it announces the $7.4 million acquisition of Marmar Media. The company says the deal is 'highly complementary to the existing business' and it expects the transaction to be immediately earnings enhancing.