Investors make tentative steps back onto the UK market on Thursday after several days of falling markets. The FTSE 100 nudges 8.6 points higher in early trade to 6,715, with discount flyer EasyJet (EZJ) leading the way, up close on 2.5% at £13.46.
Going the other way among the UK blue-chips, FTSE 100 miner BHP Billiton (BLT) dips 1.4% to £17.72 despite saying it will consider London, after all, as one of the destinations where its demerged 'NewCo' business will list. Investors had earlier expressed disappointment that it would only park the assets on the Australian and South African exchanges.
Fallen grocery titan Tesco (TSCO) remains engulfed by turmoil in the wake of its £250 million accounting black hole and continuing market share losses. The shares nudge 1p higher to 193.9p despite speculation that Parliament probe could be launched in the wake of Tescogate. However, the struggling supermarket receives surprising support as Mike Ashley's Sports Direct International (SPD) takes a puts punt on a recovery in the grocer's shares. Sports Direct has a growing relationship with Tesco and has entered into a put option agreement with Goldman Sachs with respect to 23 million shares, or 0.28% of the company, an investment reflecting 'Sports Direct's growing relationship with Tesco and belief in Tesco's long-term future.'
Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) edges 0.8% higher to £14.40 as it unveils Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) chairman and former Sainsbury (SBRY) man, Sir Philip Hampton as its next non-executive chairman. He will join the board in January before taking over from current chairman Sir Christopher Gent in September 2015.
There's lots of red flags in UK Mail's (UKM) trading update which spooks investors, sending the shares down 15.5% to 477.63p. Although the delivery group says first-half results should meet previous expectations, it does use the term 'broadly' which implies earnings could narrowly miss targets. It also says markets have become 'challenging' with a drop in parcel volumes.
Investors clearly feel takeover talks have legs between bluetooth and wireless chips maker CSR (CSR) and US peer Microchip Technology (MCHP:NDQ). The shares rise nearly 8% to 784.5p as negotiations are allowed an extension by the UK takeover panel. The deadline is shunted forward from 5pm today to 5pm 15 October, giving the respective managements another three weeks to hammer out a deal.
Car and motorcycle manual publisher Haynes (HYNS) is ahead 7.9% to 183.5p as final results reveal the benefits of a major restructuring programme which involved cutting jobs from its book division and disposing of a premises in Somerset. Adjusted pre-tax profits are up £1 million year-on-year to £4.2 million once exceptional costs associated with the transformation are stripped out.
Falling commodity prices hit agricultural feeds business NWF (NWF:AIM) as it slides 7.5p to 147p (4.9%) after an AGM statement. Trading remains in line with expectations, according to chairman Mark Hudson, and the group is still on the lookout for acquisitions.
Stockbroker and wealth management firm Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) continues its slide, down 32p to 932p (3.3%), taking its losses to 14% for the month. The business is suffering from margin pressure as competition in the asset management and wealth sector starts to bite. Other asset managers follow Hargreaves lower, including Rathbone Brothers (RAT), down 13p to £19.22, and Schroders (SDR), off 5p at £23.86.
Acquisition led growth helps fund manager Miton (MGR:AIM) 1p higher to 38p (2.7%) as it reports a 60% increase in net revenues at the half year stage. Miton benefited from a full six month contribution from asset manager PSigma, acquired in June 2013.
European non-life insurer Gable (GAH:AIM) gains 1.7% to 74.7p as it agrees to underwrite £15 million of business each year in Norway. The recent Shares Play of the Week starts work in the country in the final quarter.