Blue chip shares in London open flat at 6,704 as winners and losers from lower oil prices broadly offset each other.
Index giant Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) is under pressure as West Texas Intermediate crude prices dip 1.4% to $45.63 (£34.30), while British Airlines owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG), a key beneficiary of lower oil prices, is the biggest gainer.
Sports retailer JD Sports (JD.) makes the early running among the midcap FTSE 250 index, up 7.7% to £14.36 while online grocer Ocado (OCDO), down 4.2% to 309p, feels the heat of a disappointing trading update
Overnight trading in the US, Asia and Australasia was solid on the back of a closely-watched speech by Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard, who advocated ‘prudence’ in the normalisation of interest rates from historically low levels.
Gains at sports, fashion and outdoor brands star turn JD Sports are driven by half-time figures which reveal a forecast-busting 66% surge in underlying profit before tax to £77.4 million, delivered on further strong like-for-like sales growth.
Moving the other way, a 13.6% sales growth surge at Ocado to £286.4 million and a near-19% surge in average orders per week to 226,000 for the third quarter to 7 August is not enough to convince the market on progress. Instead, Investors take fright as CEO Tim Steiner warns 'we are seeing sustained and continuing margin pressure and there is nothing to suggest that this will change in the short term.'
Esure (ESUR) has confirmed plans to proceed with the demerger of insurance comparison website Gocompare.com. Its shareholders are set to receive free shares in Gocompare when it lists on London’s Main Market later this year. The market likes the news, sending Esure up 0.9% to 289.8p. Read our recent feature on why demergers can be highly profitable.
Investors are itching to sell TyraTech (TYR:AIM) after the life science company issued a profit warning which it blamed on inadequate levels of head lice in the US. It says the treatment market has softened to the extent whereby it has difficulty in forecasting future sales. The shares fall 21.7% to 2.35p.
Betting operator Sportech (SPO) is selling its Football Pools unit for £97.25 million in a deal which will see the business re-listed on AIM. Shares in Sportech are up 8.4% to 77p on the deal with venture capital firm Burlywood Capital.
Early-stage healthcare outfit Futura Medical (FUM:AIM) gains 6.6% to 81p on interim results as chief executive James Barder talks up positive clinical study results published last week on an erectile disfunction treatment.
Amryt Pharma (AMYT) is boosted by news of a patent approval for its lead drug, Episalvan, which treats a rare skin disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa. Clinical-stage pharma outfit Amryt also publishes half-year results, though its trading history is too short to make any meaningful conclusions after the business joined the market in April 2016. Shares in Amryt trade 11.6% higher at 23p.
Industrial engineer TP Group (TPG:AIM) as half-year results show the business hit breakeven via a £1 million swing at the earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) level and a 13% increase in revenue. Shares trade 6.1% higher at 6.1p.