London stocks drop in early trade on Tuesday as oil prices fall and traders awaited a slate of data on the services industry. The benchmark FTSE 100 index slumps 78 points, or about 1.3%, to 6,085, although the declines is less sharply felt among UK midcaps.
In corporate news, breakdown recovery and insurance company AA (AA.) saw its earnings fall in the year to the end of January but revenues from its core roadside assistance arm increase. The group is on track to make annual cost savings of at least £40 million from 2019 while also continuing to invest across the business, but the shares are dampened by the lower earnings, nudging a little more than 2% down at 257.2p.
Supplier Electrocomponents (ECM) jumps after saying it expect full year profits to hit the top end of market expectations, following a solid fourth quarter in which the UK recovery gained pace. The shares rally 6% to 257.3p.
Among the bigger movers, metals producer Vast Resources (VAST:AIM) surges by 91.8% to 0.47p after scrapping part of a dilutive funding deal that saw a financier regularly get discounted shares which were subsequently dumped on the market, thereby depressing the miner's share price.
Strat Aero (AERO:AIM) falls 9.5% to 2.38p as investors digest news that the company is suing the vendor of recently-acquired Aero Kinetics for fraud and breach of contract, together with the departure of Strat's chief executive Tony Dunleavy who was only recruited to run the drone specialist in September 2015.
Turnaround telco and IT services supplier AdEPT Telecom (ADT:AIM) rallies close on 6% to 242.5p as it reveals that it anticipates underlying EBITDA of around £6.15 million for the year to 31 March, about 33% up on last time and ahead of the market consensus expectations for a 30% rise.
Men's formalwear specialist Moss Bros (MOSB) tailors a 7.3% gain at 103p on impressive full-year results, taxable profits 23.1% higher at £5.9 million supported by strong growth across all channels. Like-for-like sales grew 7.6% and 11.7% in the retail and hire businesses respectively last year, while CEO Brian Brick also issues a confident outlook, flagging a positive early response to Moss' 2016 Spring/Summer retail range.
Budget greeting cards purveyor Card Factory (CARD) clips ahead 3.8p to 333.3p as it confirms another record year, pre-tax profit up 25.2% to £82 million amid further market share gains. Cash-generative Card Factory, where Karen Hubbard succeeds Richard Hayes as CEO later this month, also announces a 25% hike in the total dividend to 8.5p, on top of a 15p special dividend paid out in November.
India-focused fashion site Koovs (KOOV:AIM) sparks up 12.4% to 19.25p as a positive year-end update flags 189% annual sales growth to £10 million; Koovs also announces a new and exclusive design collaboration with London illustrator and graphic designer Hattie Stewart.
Sugar tax winner and stevia ingredients leader PureCircle (PURE) pulls back 3.4% to 367p following a recent upwards spike, managing expectations on year-on-year sales growth by highlighting uncertainty over the timing of customer's product roll-outs.
Opening 13 new offices and rising demand for rental accommodation saw property group MartinCo’s (MCO:AIM) pre-tax profits increase by 42% to £2.9 million in 2015. Shares moved 5.6% higher to 149.5p after management recommended a 47.5% dividend hike to 5.9p a piece.