London's FTSE 100 breaks through its all-time record of 6,930 for all but a few minutes on Monday, before a disappointing full-year update from HSBC (HSBA) drags the blue chip benchmark into the red. The market hit 6941.61 prior to the HSBC announcement, passing its 31 December 1999 peak, but now trades roughly flat at 6,909. Global megabank HSBC, the index’s largest constituent, earned $18.7 billion before tax in 2014 (£12.1 billion), a 17% decline year-on-year. Chairman Douglas Flint says regulatory fines, customer redress and non-recurring gains on the sale of businesses in the prior year are factors behind the decline, news of which sends the shares down 5.2% to 574p.
Groceries-to-fashion giant Associated British Foods (ABF) puts on 30p at £30.66 after delivering an in-line interim pre-close update. Although first half operating profit will be lower year-on-year due to sterling strength and weak EU sugar prices, ABF's expansionist budget fashion chain Primark is performing well, with total sales up 12% and like-for-like sales on an improving trend over recent weeks.
Packaging-to-offices products play DS Smith (SMDS) sparks up 3.5% to 359.5p as investors welcome the £220 million acquisition of recycled corrugated board packaging business Duropack, as well as a positive trading update from CEO Miles Roberts.
Temporary power provider APR Energy (APR) sheds 10% to 269.75p as it warns it is in talks with lenders over a breach of loan covenants because of the suspension of its Libya operations in January.
Bunzl (BNZL) trades 30p (1.6%) higher at £19.58 as it generates out a 2% increase in annual earnings per share despite currency headwinds, hikes its dividend for the 22nd year in a row and announces new acquisitions in Spain and Canada in the healthcare market.
A 21.7% increase in Quindell's (QPP:AIM) share price to 92.5p suggests few investors believe today's announcement about a possible sale of its professional services division, otherwise the share price would have jumped much higher. The insurance services group claims indicative sale terms to suitor Slater & Gordon are at a 'significant premium' to Quindell's plc value, as of last Friday's market close.
A 'heads of agreement' deal to sell a technology licence to Compass Resources sends shares in intellectual property owner Alexander Mining (AXM:AIM) up 41.8% to 0.78p. The latter has developed a way to extract metals from certain types of rock.
Elsewhere, sofas and furniture retailer DFS Furniture has set its IPO price range at 245p to 310p. At the mid point of this range, the company will boast a market cap of £585 million when debut dealings begin in early March.