As the FTSE 100 index rises by 56.2 points to 7,440 ahead of UK unemployment figures and following uninspiring performances on Wall Street overnight and in Asia this morning, insurer Admiral (ADM) sinks 6.75% to £20.31.

Despite reporting marginal growth in first half profits and a boost in customer numbers and turnover, CEO David Stevens concedes some extra costs of large injury claims resulting from the change in the so-called ‘Ogden rate’ have carried into 2017.

Construction firm Balfour Beatty (BBY) rebounds 5.75% to 277.6p on first half results demonstrating further progress with CEO Leo Quinn’s Build to Last transformation plan, with pre-tax profits up to £12m from a £15m loss the year before.

Quinn says his charge is on track to meet full year forecasts; profitability is rising backed by positive operational cash flow and Balfour Beatty is ‘booking new orders at improved margins and reduced risk’. Investors also cheer a 33% hike in the half time payout to 1.2p.

Also in demand is property group CLS (CLI), which sparks up 5.7p to 220p on strong first half results boosted by valuation gains across all of its regions and the £144.1m sale of Vauxhall Square, a 39% premium to book value.

Aquaculture industry healthcare products specialist Benchmark (BMK:AIM) firms 3% to 51p after heralding its development of CleanTreat, an environmentally benign purification system for the salmon industry’s fight against sealice.

Manchester-based motor retailer Lookers (LOOK) reverses 8.7% to 105p despite reporting record first half profits driven by growth across all areas of the business and the successful integration of prior year acquisitions. Investor skittishness reflects the outlook, with Lookers flagging a softening in the new car market in recent months and viewing the second half of the year with ‘some caution’.

Building products play Epwin (EPWN:AIM) crumbles 12.9% to 82.75p after warning full year results will be ‘marginally below market expectations’ amid challenging renovation, maintenance and improvement (RMI) industry conditions and rising materials costs, while also highlighting the unhelpfully changing circumstances of two important customers.

Hochschild Mining (HOC) is marked down 13.25% to 275p on news of a drop in first half profits and earnings. Production and prices were broadly similar to a year ago and revenues of $340.8m were marginally up from $339.3m last time, but the company’s increased investment in exploration-led growth contributed to an increase in overall costs and a fall in adjusted earnings.

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Issue Date: 16 Aug 2017