London shares show sharp losses in early trade on Wednesday as investors fret over upcoming inflation figures in the US and the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting minutes, due later today. Much like here in the UK, consumer prices in the US are being squeezed hard with limited real growth, signals which may have policymakers thinking twice about upping the interest rate ante too soon.
The FTSE 10 index is down around 75 points, or 1.1%, at 6,453 first thing on Wednesday, with midcaps posting not dissimilar losses, the FTSE 250 of 134 points, or 0.75%, at 17,482.
In company news, Miner Glencore (GLEN) slumps sharply to head the Footsie loser board, losing nearly 6% to 166.6p, as the group posts a very disappointing 29% drop in core first-half earnings on the back of declining commodity prices. Worse still, the group also remains very cautious on predicting any turn anytime soon, talking down investment spending in the year ahead.
Among bigger movers, AIM-listed insurance broker Jelf (JLF:AIM) is the biggest gainer of the day, surging 18.4% to 245p on news of a possible takeover offer from $31 billion (£19.8 billion) sector titan Marsh & McLennan (MMC:NYSE), based in New York.
Sunrise Resources (SRES:AIM) rallies 7% to 0.23p as it signs a contract with Boart Longyear for a drill programme at its Bay State Silver Project in Nevada, USA. The drill and drill crew will mobilise to site on 24 August for an immediate drill start. Drill access roads and pads have already been constructed.
SmallCap Air Partner (AIR:AIM) rises 6% to 463.5p as it buys aviation safety consultant Baines Simmons in a deal worth up to £6 million. The acquisition is seen as earnings enhancing in its first full year of ownership.
Back in the resources space, Sirius Minerals (SXX:AIM) has upgraded its take or pay supply agreement with its existing Fortune 500 US-based agri-business customer. That sparks the shares to run nearly 6% higher to 17.75p.
FTSE 100 drug-maker Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) rises 3.8% to £24.92 despite pre-tax profits falling 22% to $170 million in the six months to the end of June. Competition hitting demand for its generic medicines has been blamed, but management expect group sales to recover from the 4% first half dip to rise 6% year-on-year by the end of 2015.
Home and car insurer Admiral (ADM) gains 4.5% to £15.32 as first half pre-tax profits beat forecasts by improving 1% to £186.1 million. The expected profit decline was avoided after customer numbers improved by 6% and the group tapped the reserves it had set aside to cover future claims. For further details read our story here soon.
Product testing specialist Exova (EXO) is a surprise gainer after winning a contract to work with Boeing on specialist metals, a story broken by the Maintenance Repair and Operations website. Shares in the thinly-traded stock open 4.7% higher at 168p on very low volume.
Plastic packaging group Robinson (RBN:AIM) falls 2.8% to 189p after swinging to a pre-tax loss of £81,000 in the first half from a profit of £309,000 the previous year. This is blamed on the loss of large contract in Poland, adverse foreign exchange and a 25% drop in resin prices, which was passed on to customers. The group says new business gains in the second half are expected to lift revenues and lead to a significant recovery in Lodz, Poland. It has increased the interim dividend by 11% to 2.5p.
Global nutrition group Glanbia's (GLB) good run continues, the shares gathering up 1.7% to €18.44 on robust interims, reiteration of full-year earnings per share growth guidance of between 9% and 11%, as well as a 10% hike in the dividend to 4.88 cent.