Hefty banking losses fail to cap wider London markets' progress in early trade Tuesday, the benchmark FTSE 100 index nudging 25 points higher to 6,388. Paper group Mondi (MNDI) heads the Footsie leader board, adding 2.4% to £10.11.

But the banking sector is today's biggest drag, led by Standard Chartered's (STAN) 8% slump to £10.05, as the Far East-focused bank lowers second half profit guidance following a 16.4% dive in third quarter pre-tax profits.

Flat pre-tax profits flat in the nine months to October from Lloyds (LLOY) were better-than-expected at £1.6 billion, yet that fails to offset market concerns over more payment protection insurance (PPI) impairment charges. The shares slide 2.5% to 73.45p as the bank adds an extra £900 million to its PPI compensation fund. This is worrying ahead of UK banking stress test results.

Equipment rental firm Ashtead (AHT) sees its shares rise2.1% to 993p ahead of the announcement of durable goods orders in the US, its largest market. Economists expect the figures to show a rebound from August when they are announced at 12.30 UK time.

Smallcap Utilitywise (UTW:AIM) delivers against some tough full year revenue and profit targets and its shares rise 4.2% 295p. The utility cost management provider grows earnings per share 58% to 13.4p and says it is confident of meeting its financial and acquisition goals in the next financial year.

FTSE 250 chemicals supplier Synthomer (SYNT) issues a mild profit warning sending shares 5.4% lower to 201.4p. Demand in Europe and North America has fallen back in the third quarter, and more of the same could lead to a further profits downgrade.

Manchester-headquartered motor dealer Lookers (LOOK) accelerates 3.2% higher to 132.88p as a strong third quarter trading statement and upbeat outlook stoke further forecast upgrades.

Pan-African crops-to-cattle counter Agriterra (AGTA:AIM) cheapens 4.2% to 0.92p as full-year results fail to impress. The micro cap has suspended its cocoa trading operations in Sierra Leone due to the Ebola outbreak.

The old Redstone enterprise IT support business Castleton Technology (CTP:AIM) has been forced to issue a statement regarding its share price, which has gone bananas recently. The stock has risen 114% in the last week, but the company today denies that it has an inkling 2.4% to why. That doesn't stop the stoop leaping another 22.5% today to 2.18p.

Hospital operator in the United Arab Emirates NMC Health (NMC) gains 2.7% to 495p on an 18% revenue rise in the third quarter to $161.2 million.

Issue Date: 28 Oct 2014