London’s blue chip index makes modest gains in early trading, rising 3.59 points to 6,673. Several stocks moved higher on positive newsflow, such as ITV (ITV), which climbed 2% to 277p on Liberty Global increasing its stake in the media group to 9.9%.
Royal Mail (RMG) finds some buyers after a tough week for the stock which included a claim from regulator Ofcom that it had ‘distorted competition’ in the mail market. Shares are up 1.3%, to 499p making it one of the FTSE 100’s biggest gainers, helping the stock regain some of the week’s earlier losses on low volume.
Lloyds Banking (LLOY) slips 0.9% to 85.2p as its 28% rise in pre-tax profit to £1.2 billion in the six months to the end of June was lower than the £1.8 billion expected. The high street and commercial bank also put £1.4 billion aside to pay for its payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling scandal. Management hinted at a special dividend or a buy-back this year if cash reserves exceed 13% of its risk-weighted assets.
Distributor and packaging outfit Essentra (ESNT) is one of the FTSE 350’s biggest losers, falling 5.2% to 911p on poor performance in its Pipe Protection Technologies (PPT) unit which supplies seals to the oil and gas industry. Like-for-like revenue growth excluding PPT was solid at 6% and underlying operating margin increased 90 basis points.
Retail star turn JD Sports Fashion (JD.) jumps 8.14% to 807.25p as further upgrades follow news full-year pre-tax profit will be 10% ahead of analysts' £110 million consensus estimate. This follows a stellar first half from the sports, fashion and outdoor brands purveyor, with like-for-like sales tracking ahead of forecasts.
Medicine re-developer Oxford Pharmascience (OXP:AIM) plummets 20% to 7.1p on tests showing that its OXPzero 250mg tablet does not reduce gastrointestinal tract irritation to the level expected. Further studies are in the pipeline.
Kitty Bingo-owner Stride Gaming (STR:AIM) surges 10% to 245p on news it is acquiring Israel-based mobile social gaming company InfiApps for $39.2 million. Stride says the deal is immediately earnings enhancing and gives it exposure to the fast growing social gaming market, particularly in the US, Canada and Australia. InfiApps generated pre-tax profit of $3.4 million in 2014.
Travel company Minoan (MIN:AIM), which is planning a resort in Crete, climbs 4% to 9.8p on a slightly more positive set of interim results following its profit warning two weeks ago. The Greek crisis has caused development hold-ups, but chairman Christopher Egleton says he expects to give positive news as the political picture stabilises. The group's pre-tax loss widened from £694,000 to £759,000 in the six months to 30 April due to an increased charge for depreciation and amortisation.
Aircraft charter broker Air Partner (AIR) rises 8.8% as the £43.4 million cap's pre-close update informs investors that first half pre-tax profit is set to almost double to £2 million when the group reports interims on 23 September.