The FTSE 100 index of leading stocks edged higher in early trade, adding 0.2% or 10 points to 7,336 as investors awaited a crucial court ruling on prime minister Johnson’s prorogation of parliament.

After dragging the market down yesterday, banks were making amends with HSBC (HSBA) up 0.6% to 617p, Lloyds (LLOY) up 0.5% to 54.5p and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) up 1.2% to 211p.


Following the slow-motion collapse of its rival Thomas Cook, travel firm TUI (TUI) rushed out a trading update for the year to 30 September to assure investors and customers that business is in line with expectations and that there is no change to its earnings forecasts.

Despite the ‘challenging market environment’, the grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX fleet, airline over-capacity and Brexit uncertainty, TUI is focusing on reducing costs and taking market share where possible. The message seemed to have gone down well, with the shares climbing 0.5% to 906p.


Soft drinks-maker AG Barr (BAG) delivered an uninspiring set of half year results but stuck to its revised full year guidance, sending its shares up 6% to 621p.

Revenues for the six months to 27 July fell 10.5% to £122.5m while pre-tax profits fell 24% to £13.9m as sales failed to match last year when a combination of one-off sporting events and remarkable summer weather drove consumption.


House-builder and infrastructure group Galliford Try (GFRD) announced it had won several new highways contracts with a combined value of £461m, sending its shares 1.3% higher to 679p.

Work includes upgrading the A47 between Great Yarmouth and Peterborough and a dualling of the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester.

Shares in Galliford hit a high of 780p earlier this month after it re-opened discussions with rival Bovis (BVS) over selling its house-building unit for up to £1.1bn, although a deal has yet to be inked.


Shares in Card Factory (CARD) jumped 7% to a three-month high of 174p after it reported half-year sales up 5% to £195m and more importantly a small increase in like-for-like in-store sales.

Investors were also cheered by news that trials with Aldi had proved a success and that the firm would supply cards to half the discount retailer's UK estate from this November.

Shares in breakdown service and insurance provider AA (AA.) gained 1.3% to 70p after it reported solid first half earnings helped by growth in policy numbers and profitability at its insurance business.

Motor-finance and bridge-lending firm S&U (SUS) announced a steady gain in half-year earnings thanks to growth in both divisions despite considerable economic headwinds.

The firm also announced the appointment of Graham Wheeler as chief executive of its motor finance arm, Advantage, replacing Guy Thomson who helped found the business in 1999. Shares traded sideways at £21.

Healthcare firm Alliance Pharma (APH) revealed strong trading in the six months to 30 June with revenues up 29% to £70m led by its ‘International Star’ brands.

AIM-listed specialty-drug company Diurnal (DNL:AIM) also reported a positive performance in its financial year ended 30 June with the successful launch of Alkindi in the UK and pricing agreed in major European markets.

Bucking the positive tone in financial stocks, shares in Metro Bank (MTRO) sank 12% to 240p on top of yesterday’s 5% loss after it had to abandon a capital-raising exercise.

The bank had hoped to raise £250m in funding but even with an interest rate of 7.5%, compared with 2% to 4% less than a year ago, orders had only reached £175m by yesterday lunchtime causing the bank to shelve the offering.

Also among the losers was advertising firm M&C Saatchi (SAA) which fell 14% to 147p after reporting a 90% drop in half year operating profits.

The fall was it blamed on discontinued operations and an increase in loss-making start-up businesses.

As a result full year operating profits are now seen between 5% and 10% below previous management expectations.

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Issue Date: 24 Sep 2019