A 1.3% drop in the FTSE 100 to 6215 continues the UK equity sell-off since late May. Markets around the world are declining in general, weakened by the World Bank cutting its forecasts for this year amid expectations of deeper-than-expected recession in Europe and a slowdown in China and India.
Japan's Nikkei index has fallen by 22% since May after the yen hit a 10-week high against the US dollar, fueling concerns of a drop in exporters' profits.
Leading the UK market down was Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which dipped 6% to 305.9p after announcing the departure of its chief executive officer, Stephen Hester. We'll have a story on this news later today on the Shares website.
Home Retail (HOME) weakened 8% to 132.4p on a disappointing, weather-affected first quarter trading update. Positive sentiment fostered by better-than-expected numbers from Homebase, where like-for-like sales were up 1.4%, was more than offset by weak like-for-like sales at Argos, where a 1.9% rise was below consensus.
A weak third quarter trading update has sent books-to-magazines retailer WH Smith (SMWH) down 3% to 709p. Yet analysts remain broadly upbeat about the story, believing the cash-generative high street stalwart can continue to eke out profitable growth through tight cost control and gross margin gains, as we discuss in detail here.
English luxury brand Mulberry (MUL:AIM), whose shares fell on Monday on news Creative Director Emma Hill is making an exit, gave up another 14.5p to 934p on disappointing full-year results. Flagged by a warning on 22 March, pre-tax profits slumped £10 million to £26 million at the luxury bags maker, with lower wholesale orders partly reflecting sluggish demand from China.
Home improvement retailer Laura Ashley (ALY) cheapened 5.4% to 26.5p on a downbeat trading update. Like-for-like sales fell 0.6% in the opening 18 weeks of the fiscal year to 25 January, with a strong performance from home furnishings undone by a poor turn from fashion, where unseasonable weather proved unhelpful.
Oil explorer Faroe Petroleum (FPM:AIM) fell 2.6% to 113p despite being awarded a new licence in the Norwegian Barents Sea. The company claims the PL716 licence contains the Dazzler prospect, located around 55 miles north-west of the Havis and Skrugard oil discoveries.
After earlier celebrations over winning a lengthy battle against the tax man, Sportech (SPO) slumped 10% to 88.25p after news that it would be dragged back into the courts. Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs has won the right to appeal a VAT repayment claim, meaning Sportech will have to wait until next year to see if will ever get an £80 million refund.
EMED Mining (EMED:AIM) shot up 20.5% to 6.62p after revealing that offtake partners XGC and Red Kite have agreed to provide $15 million funding in exchange for a greater share of the copper to be extracted from EMED's Rio project in Spain. The deposit continues to lay idle, however, as it struggles to gain the necessary permits to restart the old mine.
Utilitywise (UTW:AIM) dipped 2.8% to 104p as it planned to issue new shares and buy a rival business. It is placing new stock with investors at 100p to raise £5 million cash. Directors and Hub Capital Partners are also selling existing shares to raise an extra £17.2 million cash. The acquisition of EIC will cost £15.5 million, two thirds funded in cash and the rest in new Utilitywise shares. The energy group will also repay EIC's £1.9 million mortgage debt.
Duel-fuel specialist Clean Air Power (CAP:AIM) got slammed into reverse, down nearly 10% to 7p, after warning that it will miss revenue expectations. That's due to a manufacturing log-jam at its biggest truck-making customer. Yet kit unit volumes remain strong, it's already sold 250 this year, against the 300 sales in 2012, although N1 Singer analysts slash 2013 forecasts from 800 to 500 units.
Broadcast equipment specialist Avesco (AVS) fell 5.2% to 201.5p on news that sales had dropped 2% in the six months to 31 March 2013. The market is now focussed back on operational performance following the Walt Disney (DIS:NYSE) payout relating to unpaid share of profits for the broadcast of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
Production company Entertainment One (ETO) rose 3% to 183.3p on news it is to acquire the brand and licencing agency Art Impressions which manages popular teen lifestyle brands including So So Happy and Skelanimals.
Medical technology specialist Consort Medical (CSRT) improved 2.1% to 757p after increasing its dividend for the first time in a decade. ‘It is a signal of intent of the confidence we have in the business,’ chief executive Jonathan Glenn told Shares. Pre-tax profit increased 4.4% year-on-year to £19.6 million and ended the year with £37 million net cash. Glenn said he expects to launch new products in the next few years, which could include the UK’s first approved e-cigarette, following the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s announcement that it will regulate all such products.
Social care services provider CareTech (CTH: AIM) was up 1.2% to 162p after increasing its dividend by 5% to 2.3p per share for the six months to April. This was despite a fall in pre-tax profits to £3.4 million from £4 million a year earlier, due to refurbishing its adult learning difficulties division. Canaccord Genuity expects revenues to increase in the second half of the year from its newly-refurbished properties and increased foster places.