The Footsie begins trading Friday with a bounce after yesterday's hefty declines, with investors on both sides of the pond anticipating positives in the US September jobs report, due out this afternoon. The blue-chip FTSE 100 rallies 53 points to 6,499 in early deals.
In company news, Easyjet (EZJ) increases its profits guidance for the half year to end September from between £545 million and £570 million, now expecting somewhere within the £575 million and £580 million range. That's down to a strong finish to the summer season, which saw increased revenue per seat. The Shares rally 7.5% to £14.74, to top the Footsie leader board.
Investors welcome a strengthening of the board at engineering and project management company Amec (AMEC), pushing the shares 3.7% higher to £10.84. The company announces, alongside a trading update, that Kent Masters and Stephanie Newby will join its board as non-executive directors once the acquisition of Foster Wheeler is completed. Masters is currently president and chief executive of Foster Wheeler, while Newby has been a member of the American company’s board since 2004.
In response to the draft determination published by The Water Services Regulation Authority, supplier United Utilities (UU.) has submitted a revised plan which would result in average household bills falling by 4.1% in real terms over the 2015-20 period, compared with a 2.3% reduction in its June plan. But investors welcome the clarity today's announcement brings, the stock up 3.2% at 809.5p.
Struggling mother and baby products retailer Mothercare (MTC) remains in negative territory, down 4.25p to 263p, after Cantor Fitzgerald Europe urges clients to 'Sell' and downgrades its price target from 114p to just 90p. In a note entitled 'Money for nothing', analyst Mike Dennis argues that the '£100 million proposed rights issue is not enough to return the UK to profitability. We would sell the shares and not take up the 125p rights,' states.
Department store Debenhams (DEB) ticks 3.8% higher to 62.3p on the revelation retail billionaire Mike Ashley's Sports Direct (SPD) has spent £33 million acquiring a further 4.6% stake. On top of a derivative deal struck in January that could see the sportswear retailer take a 6.62% stake if the shares fall, the sports retailer's interest in Debenhams has risen to 11.22%, sparking fresh speculation Ashley might be interested in buying out the department stores chain.
Electronic kit manufacturer Renishaw (RSW) rallies strongly as it reveals record first quarter revenue of £101 million. That's up from £79 million this time last year. Strong growth in the Far East is partly responsible, and the shares jump more than 9% to £17.37, with investors impressed by a second consecutive record quarter following a strong end to last year.
Homewares market leader Dunelm (DNLM) gains 4.4% at 829.25p on a positive first quarter trading statement. Like-for-like sales grew 8.9% over the 13 weeks to 27 September, reflecting increased brand awareness and easy prior year comparatives after last year's sweltering July. Dunelm, where Will Adderley has resumed his role as CEO, also pleases with news of ongoing gross margin gains.
Gas mask-to-dairy products manufacturer Avon Rubber (AVON) shoots up 5.4% to 654p as it says results for the year to 30 September will be 'comfortably ahead' of expectations. Investec upgrades from hold to buy in response and says the group 'continues to offer attractive forecast upside potential'.
Fund manager Miton (MGR:AIM) caps off a disappointing few months with the loss of a £326 million institutional asset management contract. The fund also lost respected fund manager Bill Mott, who has retired, leading to outflows in the fund he managed. The group’s shares tumble 8.8% to 33p.