London's FTSE 100 is 3.8 points lower at 6,644.1 as it gives up earlier gains following a disappointing set of figures from HSBC (HSBA). The banking giant reported a lower-than-expected 10% rise in half-year pre-tax profits to £9.2 billion. This came in below the £9.5 billion consensus, although HSBC, 4.1% easier at 724p, still managed to move profits in the right direction despite a 7% revenue drop to just under $35 billion (£22.8 billion). Cost-cutting, lower bad debts and the sale or closure of eleven non-core businesses since the start of the year helped support the bottom line.
Heading in the opposite direction is Lloyds Banking (LLOY), up another 4.2% to 77p after impressing investors with first-half results last week. Today's additional gains come in the wake of comments from chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio, who says the bank will start paying out up to 70% of earnings in dividends within three years.
Rare coins and collectables specialist Noble Investments (NBL:AIM) is trading up by 2.8% at 205p following a reassuring trading update. Responding to a slip in the share price since the interims (29 May), management said it was ‘not aware of any issues within the company which might explain this’. Noble reassured that it expected a ‘full recovery’ of monies due, together with associated costs, relating to a Qatari investor who failed to pay for their auction purchase.
Heavy construction specialist Morgan Sindall (MGNS) sheds 5.5p to 653.5p on news of a 24% drop in first half taxable profits to £15.4 million and comments from chief executive John Morgan that market conditions are not expected to significantly improve.
Nationwide Accident Repair Services (NARS:AIM) is in reverse today, with the shares crashing 12.7% to 58.5p as investors fret over a full-year profits warning and news the £29 million cap is to reassess its dividend payout ratio. We look at the news in more detail here.
US oil & gas play Northcote Energy (NTC:AIM) is in demand, up 8.2% to 1.32p, after increasing production capacity from a key unit on its 51%-owned flagship Horizon project in Oklahoma and updating the market on its ongoing fracture stimulation or 'fracking' programme. Click here for our take on the story.
Mobile communications technology minnow Mobile Tornado (MBT:AIM) can point to gains of 8.5% 22.25p after a £4 million cash call significantly strengthens the business. The market may well see this as enough to take the UK microcap to break even based on commercial launches of its application-based 'push-to-talk' technology planned this year. Shares flagged Mobile Tornado in June 2012 at 10.5p.
Video search engine Blinkx (BLNX:AIM) has for a long time been a marmite stock but investors are warming to it today, bidding the shares 3p higher to 140.25p, after a content deal with Grab Media. The agreement will boost its already vast library of clips, although the absence of financial detail suggests it will not be hugely meaningful to revenues and profits ahead.
A 21p, or near 3% ,jump to 790p will be pleasing on the eye for EMIS (EMIS:AIM) investors. The healthcare software supplier is moving into ophthalmology care software support with the £3.1 million Digital Healthcare acquisition. This fits with the company's cross-organisational healthcare systems strategy, although EMIS will be looking to drive the target's lowly 3% operating margins higher toward its own 26% run rate.
A positive trading update from Lok'nStore (LOK:AIM) sees the self-storage operator trading 5.8% higher at 144p. Occupancy at the group’s 23 sites increased 10% year-on-year during the 12 months to the end of July, with occupancy levels across the portfolio increasing in the second half of the year. Shares highlighted the firm's investment attractions back in February.
It is a different story for GW Pharmaceuticals (GWP:AIM), the cannabinoid-based therapeutics company, which is losing some of its puff with a 3.5% fall to 55p. Third-quarter results to July revealed a swing from £7.9 million profits to a £2.3 million loss before tax, with last year's comparative numbers boosted by a £9.8 million milestone payment. Meanwhile, tests confirmed the safety and long-term efficacy of its Sativex drug in treating multiple sclerosis. Shares spelled out how GW Pharmaceuticals is using the US market to fund its development here.