London's fabulous FTSE 100 gives up 9.1 points at 7024.2 on Thursday as blue chips fail to track rises on Wall Street and in Asia, the market looking to the European Central Bank's monetary policy meeting accounts and US jobs data later.
In corporate news, there are contrasting fortunes for two home improvement retailers early on in the session. Cushions, quilts and curtains purveyor Dunelm (DNLM) dips 3.5% to 827.5p on a first quarter update showing a 3.8% decline in like-for-like sales. Unusually warm weather, notably in September, 'had a dampening effect on store footfall' over the 13 weeks to 1 October, though Dunelm flags good online growth and believes it continues to outperform the homewares market as a whole.
However DFS Furniture (DFS) sits pretty with a 2.7% gain at 285.5p on full year results revealing record sales, profits and cash flow as well as an 18.3% hike in the total dividend. The UK's leading upholstered furniture seller also says it plans a further special capital return later in the new financial year. Albeit early days following the vote for Brexit, CEO Ian Filby is also reassured that DFS' trading in the past fourteen weeks 'has not indicated any weakening of demand to date'.
Budget airline EasyJet (EZJ) hits another pocket of turbulence as a trading update for the three months to 30 September 2016 shows margins are being squeezed. Increased capacity and passenger numbers via a larger fleet are being offset by declining revenue and increasing costs per seat, meaning profit for the year to September 2016 is likely to be down from £686m last year at between £490m to £495m. Bookings for the three months to December, EasyJet's first quarter, stands at 45% of available seats, in-line with last year. Shares trade 5.6% lower at 945p.
Specialist healthcare company BTG (BTG) rises 2.8% to 665p on news full year revenue is likely to top its previously announced £510m-to-£540m range due to the lower pound. CEO Louise Makin reports a strong first half from BTG, double-digit growth delivered with a boost from a healthy performance in interventional medicine revenues.
Server replication specialist WANdisco (WAND:AIM) slumps 15.2% to 190p, investors unsettled by management changes; chairman Paul Walker and non-executive director Ian Duncan have resigned following David Richards' re-instatement as CEO with the backing of 58% of the institutional shareholder base.
Oil and gas explorer President Energy (PPC:AIM) crashes 35% lower to 7.5p on a disappointing operational update, announcing it has been forced to temporarily suspend drilling at well DP1002 S/T in Argentina.