London stocks end the week modestly in the red in early trade on Friday as investors continue to digest a worse-than-forecast slowdown in US economic growth in the third quarter, while also looking ahead to Eurozone inflation figures. The benchmark FTSE 100 index drifts mid-single digits to 6,391, although midcaps do better, the FTSE 250 index posting marginal rises of around 12 points to 17,128.
In corporate news, shares in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) hold steady at 322.3p on mixed news. While underlying pre-tax profits slump 98% to £2 million in the three months to 30 September thanks to soaring restructuring costs and PPI refunds, the bank also confirms the sale of its remaining 20% stake in US lender Citizens, which could see RBS collect £1.1 billion.
Airline International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) heads the FTSE fallers list, off 4.6% to 569.75p, as it reports third quarter operating profit of €1.25 billion before exceptionals. But investors are concerned that the profits progress is only down to cheaper fuel costs rather than a sustained improvement in trading. The airline, which also announced its first dividend since 2011, is citing strong demand for summer travel and cheaper fuel, and promised more progress on its cost base next year.
The oil and gas sector is under pressure as 13 investment banks polled by the Wall Street Journal come up with an average projection for Brent crude of $58 per barrel in 2016. BP (BP.) is down 1.2% to 387p and oil services firm Hunting is off 2.5% to 353.5p - bucking the negative trend is BG (BG.), unchanged as it reports bumper production numbers for the third quarter.
Specialty chemicals outfit Elementis (ELM) is up 5.9% at 238.8p after a trading update from the £1.15 billion cap reported that, despite challenging market conditions, group earnings per share for 2015 were expected to be in line with market expectations.
Among the bigger movers, business training minnow Nakama (NAK:AIM) slumps 25% to 3.88p as it posts lower half-year pre-tax profits. It has been conducting a widespread review of operations with a specific emphasis on sales.
Electronics small cap Solid State (SOLI:AIM) dives again following a profit warning released mid-afternoon yesterday. The shares collapsed more than 25% on Thursday after the company revealed it would miss full year expectations by a large margin, and there is little respite today, the stock tumbling another 17% to 440p.
Mosman Oil & Gas (MSMN:AIM), down 16% to 4.38p, has completed a strategic review on the STEP assets and identified 12 low cost value add projects that can be sped up to hike production. It has also raised £1.47 million at 4p a share, a 23% discount to yesterday's 5.24p close.
Specialist retailer Pets at Home (PETS) cowers 7.5% lower to 287.9p on a disappointing first-half trading statement. The pet food-to-veterinary services play's like-for-like sales growth slowed on weakness in health and hygiene sales, coming up against tough comparatives and hit by the late onset of the flea season.
Positive Phase I clinical trial results for an immune system-related diseases treatment sends Hutchison China MediTech (HCM:AIM) 4.8% higher to £26.20. The drug, which is designed to treat certain illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis and leukaemia, has no nasty side-effects. Next stop phase II trials where the company will seek to prove that it works.
Acquisitive motor retailer Lookers (LOOK) is marked up 3p to 172p on a positive third quarter update, flagging a strong performance in the key trading month of September and 'continued improvements in all areas of the business'.