London shares edge modestly higher in early trading as investors take heart from a bullish US market. The FTSE 100 index rises 1.9 points to 6,825 in the wake of the S&P 500 closing overnight at a fresh record which saw the value of global equities establish their own record, at $66 trillion, according to Bloomberg data.
Oil services giant Petrofac (PFC) leads the UK's blue-chip risers, up 2.5% to £11.51, as it maintains guidance for the full year despite a 44% fall in interim profits to $136 million. In the first six months of the year the order book increases from $15 billion to a record $20.3 billion as management point to a second half bias in 2014.
Shares in estate agency Foxtons (FOXT) slump despite unveiling a one-off special dividend as first half profits soar 57%. The 2.77p per share extra payout takes the interim income to 4.54p yet the market focuses on the debt-free group's caution on the future, with CEO Nic Budden calling the top for UK house price growth and sales volumes.
Cost-cutting saves the day at Russian steel producer Evraz (EVR) which posts lower first-half steel production and revenue. Yet cost-cutting helps boost earnings by 17%. The group also says political unrest in the Ukraine and related Western sanctions against Russia are not affecting the company.
Banking group Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is handed a £14.5 million fine by the Financial Conduct Authority after giving unsuitable advice to mortgage customers. That leaves the shares treading water at 366.6p.
A focus on its mobile offering helps online gaming group 888 (888) to deliver another set of record interim results, with strong cash flows leading to a 17% increase in the dividend. But currency movements slice 6.5% off earnings, leaving the shares 2.7% in the red at 127p.
Precious metals producer Polymetal (POLY) returns to the black in the first six months of the year reporting net profits of $100 million. That's against a $255 million loss in the same period of 2013.
Communications and sports marketing group Chime Communications (CHW) gains 3.6% to 320p as it announces a significant bump in pre-tax profit from £590,000 to £9.6 million. The company enjoyed a boost from the football World Cup and Winter Olympics.
Colombian oil and gas producer Global Energy Development (GED:AIM) falls 8.9% to 46p as its Catalina-1 well looks unlikely to offer a definitive result on the viability of Bolivar project. The company has realised the Simiti formation it is targeting does not require hydraulic fracturing but, though this should reduce costs in the long-term, the fact this well has already been fracked has led to technical difficulties in the short-term.
High quality ceramic tableware maker Churchill China (CHH:AIM) clips ahead 4% (17.5p) to 460p as excellent interim results stoke further earnings upgrades. Profit before tax rose 27% to £1.4 million, driven by Churchill's dominant hospitality division. Though growth is likely to moderate against tough comparatives in in the seasonally stronger second half, further year-on-year profits progress is expected.
Newsagent and convenience store operator McColl's Retail (MCLS) is marked up 1.13p to 195.13p after flagging solid third quarter trading. Total sales grew 4.3% over the 13 weeks to 24 August, driven by new store acquisitions. McColl's is one of a number of companies with exposure to the growing convenience stores channel, as Shares has previously explained.