The Footsie start the session slightly lower on Wednesday with traders again focusing on the risks associated with various conflicts around the world. In London, the FTSE 100 index eases off 12.5 points to 6,663 in early deals.
Part state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) fails to rise despite revealing the $3.4 billion pricing of its US arm Citizens Financial IPO in New York. The shares drift 5p lower to 353.1p. The banking group plans to sell a quarter of its stake in Citizens at $21.5o per share, bowing to pressure from investors to lower its price. Another 3.75% could be sold as part of RBS's over-allotment option.
Water supplier United Utilities (UU.) remains tight-lipped on negotiations with regulator Ofwat over its future price structure. But a trading update does say that first-half profits will come in at a similar level to last year's £341.7 million operating profit.
Investors welcome clarity from miner Kazakhmys (KAZ) over the construction cost for its Aktogay copper mine, despite a higher figure than previously disclosed. The bill now comes to $2.3 billion versus the earlier $2 billion guidance, bang in line with analyst expectations. Relief that it isn't higher, plus news that a contractor has been hired for build work, sends the shares up 2% to 270.3p.
Shares in tiles retailer Topps Tiles (TPT) remain as flat as its products, at 109p, a surprisingly muted response to a highly positive pre-close trading update. The UK's biggest tile specialist flags 30% year-on-year growth in pre-tax profit to around £17 million on total sales up 10% with like-for-like sales circa 8% ahead, underpinned by steady improvement in housing transactions and consumer confidence.
Among smaller stocks, North African oil explorer Tangiers Petroleum (TPET:AIM) crashes 62% to 0.89p as it emerges from suspension to confirm the unsuccessful TAO-1 well offshore Morocco came in over budget. Its share of the bill totalled $18.56 million – leaving it with a cash balance of just A$1.25 million - it now plans to exit the asset.
Also flagging badly is medical research technology minnow Instem (INS:AIM), which crashes 16% to 136.5p as it warns that several large contracts could fail to come through, posing a possible significant threat to forecasts.
Going the other way, quantum dots technology developer Nanoco (NANO:AIM) gets a big boost as giant US partner Dow Chemical (DOW:NYSE) reveals plans to start building the world's first large-scale plant in South Korea. Originally delayed, completion of the factory will help accelerate acceptance of Nanoco's cadmium-free technology into mass market TVs and other display units.
Investors back Arrow Global's (ARW) £158 million acquisition of CapQuest, driving the shares up 13p to 264p (5.2%). Capquest, a UK consumer debt purchaser and outsourced collections provider, adds 2.8 million customers to Arrow's collections platform, increasing its total to 8.9 million. Shareholders will be asked to confirm the deal at a general meeting.