London stocks dip in early trade on Wednesday as oil prices reverse gains in the previous session and as investors await industrial and manufacturing data. Oil prices fell as Canadian oil sand production was expected to gradually ramp up following forced closures due to wildfires. Brent crude dropped 1.3% to $44.91 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate declined 1.3% to $44.05 per barrel.
In company news, Barratt Developments (BDEV) recovers from an initial slump after saying it improved its sales rate in the 19 weeks since the start of the year and confirmed market conditions remained 'strong.'
Media firm and running SHARES Play of the Week Centaur (CAU) slips 2% to 49.25p on a mixed AGM trading update. This reveals pressure on advertising and sponsorship revenues but a significant improvement in cash conversion and concludes by saying 2016 results will be in line with expectations.
Deal-hungry Vertu Motors (VTU:AIM) softens 0.75p to 59.75p despite full-year results to February showing record sales and profits, possibly reflecting an absence of new forecast upgrades. Driven by a strong aftersales performance, adjusted pre-tax profit powered 24.5% higher to £27.4 million and the dividend is lifted 23.8% to 1.3p. The UK's fifth biggest automotive retailer says trading in March and April was ahead year-on-year and having recently raised £35 million to fund acquisitions, 'expects significant deployment' in the coming months.
Premium drinks company C&C (CCR), the maker of Bulmers and Magners, froths 0.18% higher to €4.10 despite annual numbers showing top-line and operating profits declines amid more competitive market conditions for cider, not to mention poor weather in Ireland and Scotland. Investors like the fact the dividend is raised 18.7% to 13.65 cent and C&C is to expand its share buyback programme, management stating the beverages group is ‘positioned to deliver earnings growth and strong cash generation in FY2017.'