The FTSE 100 continues its losing streak, making August a disappointing month after the stellar gains seen in July. The benchmark index today falls 0.3% to 6,420. Equities are being depressed by market concerns over the possibility of military action by the US against Syria. The flip side of this worry is that investors continue to return to gold, the precious metal price rising 0.6% to $1,425 per ounce.
Low-cost carrier Ryanair (RYA) cheapens 0.9% to 6.46p after the UK Competition Commission (UKCC) rules that it should reduce its holding in Irish rival and national flag carrier Aer Lingus (AERL). We look at the news in more detail here.
The long-expected fundraising has been triggered by troubled security group G4S (GFS). It is now doing the rounds in the City to get the best price for issuing new shares representing nearly 10% of its existing share capital. Having initially fallen on the announcement, which coincides with half-year results, the shares are now trading up 1.3% at 248.4p. Read our more detailed analysis here.
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power (PAP) falls 2.5% to €58.5 after half-year results miss analyst expectations. It has flagged headwinds in the third quarter from unfavourable foreign exchange rates and a weak sports margin.
There's a more positive reaction to interims from fellow gambling provider 888 (888), up 4.6% to 151.6p. Its bingo performance woes had already been flagged to the market in a trading update earlier this month, so there is an argument to suggest that all the bad news was already in the price ahead of today's results – the shares having fallen for most of August. Today's rally is therefore likely to be investors buying on weakness in anticipation of future gains to be made once the US online gambling market reopens.
Ncondezi Energy (NCCL:AIM) jumps 4.3% to 12.25p after getting a mining licence for its coal project in Mozambique. The real catalyst for the share price will be progress in becoming a power generation business, as coal mining is not the main focus – it is simply the raw material to run its planned power station.
Irish builders' merchant Grafton (GFTU) has now doubled in price over the past 12 months. Today's half-year results send the shares up a further 1.9% to €6.32 as there's clear progress with earnings recovery.
Gene-based medicines specialist Oxford BioMedica (OXB) rises 21% to 1.7p after receiving a $1 million milestone payment from US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (PFE:NYSE). The payment was triggered by the £20 million cap's antibody therapy to treat cancer entering clinical trials, while the agreement with Pfizer could be worth another $26 million in additional milestone payments and licensing fees.
The end is nigh for Warner Estate Holdings (WNER) after the real estate investment trust’s creditors pull the plug. The industrial and office specialist has struggled since the financial crisis, reporting pre-tax losses of £23.9 million for the year to April. Administrators from CCW Recovery Solutions have been appointed and the shares suspended from trading.
European property play Hansteen (HSTN) puts on 0.25p at 96.25p after announcing a move to take a 26.3% stake in the Ashtenne Industrial Fund, including the purchase of Warner’s 5.3% stake. The £52 million deal will also see Hansteen replace Warner as the fund’s manager. For more on Hansteen’s strategy, read Shares' earlier coverage here.
Marketing agency Chime Communications (CHW:AIM), a running Shares Play of the Week, slips 3.7% to 303p after analysts adjust their numbers following news of slippage of work connected to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil from this year into next. Concerns here trump in-line half-year numbers with operating income 6% ahead at £77.8 million and profit before tax 2% higher at £11.2 million.
Debt-laden regional newspaper publisher Johnston Press (JPR) falls 1.6% to 15.8p, although the weakness is probably more to do with the general risk-off sentiment in the market. Interims for the half-year to 29 June reveal a 4.3% increase in like-for-like operating profits, the first such underlying advance in seven years as chief executive officer Ashley Highfield’s turnaround strategy takes effect. Read our recent analysis of the newspaper industry here.