London’s FTSE 100 rallies more than 1.6% to 6,812.4 points on Friday, providing welcome relief after yesterday’s horrible session, although the rebound only claws back some of the losses. The important point to note is the large swings in the market on a daily basis in recent weeks, which may suggest volatility could become one of the key themes in 2019.

Foods-to-fashion conglomerate Associated British Foods (ABF) weakens 2.6% to £22.89 on a poorly-received annual general meeting (AGM) update, flagging a ‘challenging’ November for retail arm Primark. The jewel in the ABF crown encountered ‘a tough retail market’ last month, news which gives investors the jitters with the crucial Christmas selling period in full swing.

Fantasy miniatures specialist Games Workshop (GAW) gains 4.3% to £31.25 on a positive half year trading update and pleasing dividend distribution. Games Workshop spooked the market in October, highlighting ‘some uncertainties’ ahead, so there’s relief today as early estimates suggest healthy sales of £124m and an operating profit of around £41m were generated in the six months to 2 December.

These results show ‘the Warhammer Hobby is in great shape in our core markets’ and confident Games Workshop also declares a 30p dividend, in line with its policy of returning surplus cash to shareholders.

Housebuilder Berkeley (BKG) improves 2.8% to £34.13 despite first half results confirming the new reality that profit will be lower as it moves away from the prime central London market. Investors are focusing on the news current year profits will be somewhat better than expected.

Elsewhere, filtration and environmental technologies group Porvair (PRV) powers up 5% to 430p on news full year earnings are expected to be ahead of management’s expectations. Sales growth of around 10% is anticipated for the year ended 30 November and Porvair will also book an exceptional tax credit of £800,000 relating to the impact of tax rate changes in the US.

Major UK investment platform AJ Bell (AJB) jumps 29% higher to 206p in debut dealings on the Main Market, having successfully priced its IPO at 160p a share. CEO Andy Bell says the IPO is a ‘significant milestone for the business and I see it as firing the starting gun on our next phase of growth, which I’m massively excited about leading the business through.’ Bell insists ‘the demand for our IPO from both blue chip institutions and our own customers was a real endorsement of our business and the market opportunities that lie ahead of us and I’m pleased to welcome our new shareholders on board.’

Animal genetics outfit Genus (GNS) sheds 3.9% to trade at £22.94 on completion of a £68m discounted placing. Genus has raised the money to reduce net debt and boost balance sheet firepower having splashed out on acquisitions and capital spending projects in recent years.

Intellectual property commercialisation play IP Group (IPO) cheapens 6.7% to 106.2p as Jefferies downgrades the stock from ‘hold’ to ‘underperform’, also reducing its price target from 119p to 95p.

‘Against our earlier hopes for second-tier portfolio companies to step up to diversify dependence on Oxford Nanopore, hopefuls have largely failed to deliver, the listed portfolio drags and the market remains largely uninterested – ominously with the next significant funding beginning to loom’, warns Jefferies.

Premier Oil (PMO) gushes 5.1% higher to 69.5p as it sticks to its annual production guidance of around 80,000 barrels of oil per day, following higher than expected output in November and December. Premier Oil also confirms it has completed the sale of its interests in the Babbage area to Verus Petroleum for £30.3m, with the proceeds earmarked for debt reduction.

DISCLAIMER: The author owns shares in AJ Bell.

DISCLAIMER: AJ Bell, referenced in this article, is the owner of Shares Magazine.

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Issue Date: 07 Dec 2018