UK stocks slide lower in early trading on Thursday, tracking losses on Asian and US markets overnight and ahead of the European Central Bank's rate decision, due later today. The FTSE 100 is down 36 points at 6,521 in morning trading.
Print-head maker Xaar (XAR) warns on profits again as a further slowdown in Chinese tile production squeezes demand for its products. A third-quarter update explained that sales for 2014 are now expected to be 5% to 10% below the recent profit guidance of £115 million to £125 million, with profits likely to be materially lower due to the company's high operating leverage. The shares crash 28% to 265p.
High street bank Virgin Money does its best to ignite investor interest, confirming its plans to float on the London market. The initial public offering (IPO) includes hopes to raise £150 million, the fourth challenger bank to float this year.
Quirky British fashion brand Ted Baker (TED) is in vogue with investors, up 21.5p to £18.84 on a 24.2% interim pre-tax profits surge to £14.4 million. Retail sales including e-commerce grew an impressive 14.8% to £140 million over the half ending 9 August, the US wholesale business grew 47% to £7.5 million and Ted continues to expand internationally. Ted's current trading statement also flags good growth from the Autumn/Winter collections, assuaging concerns over mild September weather that has hit sales at Next (NXT).
Red tape software supplier Ideagen (IDEA:AIM) rises more than 4.5% to 33.75p after winning its biggest ever NHS contract, worth £1 million. 65% of the deal value, with Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will be recognised in the current financial year, worth roughly 5% of this year's analyst forecasts alone.
Russian oil producer Urals Energy (UEN:AIM) is up 52% to 4.75p on a positive independent reserves report. An audit carried out by US-based consultant Miller and Lents revealed total proved net reserves of 31.7 million barrels, with probable reserves at 14.6 million barrels and possible reserves at 4.4 million barrels – to put today's rally into perspective though the shares remain at a significant discount to their 52-week high of 12p.
Animation house DQ Entertainment (DQE:AIM) climbs 11.4% to 9.75p as it agrees a distribution deal with Chinese group Ciwen Media for a number of its productions. Shows like The Jungle Book, Robin Hood and Lassie will be distributed in China through TV, home entertainment and video-on-demand services.
Infrastructure group Carillion (CLLN) motors 6p to 310p (1.9%) as it reports solid trading in the year to date. The support services business, which works on private and public sector outsourcing contracts, reported new and probable orders worth £3.2 billion at its August half year results announcement and says it is confident on revenue growth, margins and cash flow for the full year.
Continuing problems in the UK and France sends Electrocomponents (ECM) down around 9p to 211p (4%). In a trading update, the engineering supplier reports sales in North America are more robust but its products tend to sell at lower margins there, impacting profitability.