London's blue-chip benchmark, which has had a storming start to 2013, was off 5.9 points at 6,717.2 by lunchtime on Monday, a session in which bus and train operator FirstGroup (FGP) proved one of the market heaviest fallers.


Shares in the Aberdeen-based transport group shed 20% to 179p after it announced proposals for a £615 million rights issue at a hefty discount in a bid to reduce its debt, which stood at £1.98 billion at the end of March, putting its investment-grade credit rating in jeopardy.


FirstGroup also disappointed with news of a 54.1% drop in operating profit to £205.7 million for the year to March and with its decision not to pay a final dividend.


Heading in the opposite direction were shares in Ryanair (RYA), which rose 7.4% to €6.8 after the Irish airline reported record profits despite stiff headwinds created by fuel cost rises.


Revenues at the low-cost carrier rose 13% to €4.3 billion in the year to March, while traffic grew 5% to 79.3 million passengers despite the winter grounding of 80 aircraft.


It appears that any worries about competitive pressures facing ITE’s (ITE) key Mosbuild show have been addressed with this morning’s interims revealing a 4% volume gain for the Russian construction gathering. The FTSE 250 counter reacted positively, up 1.9% in morning trade at 299.7p.


A strong showing at the Moscow event should address worries about a rival trade fair launched last year and has prompted analysts to upgrade their full-year earnings forecasts. The FTSE 250 company reported that, together with Mosbuild, it has booked £174 million of revenues for its 2013 financial year ending September.


Shares in fresh pork supplier Cranswick (CWK) sizzled 17p higher to £11.04 as analysts upgraded forecasts following better-than-expected annual profits and a confident outlook statement. Lower year-end debt levels and a 6% dividend hike also increased appetite for the cash-generative food producer. To read our take on the story, click here.


Calls and internet supplier TalkTalk (TALK) has reportedly renewed its sponsorship of prime time TV show The X-Factor, according to The Guardian newspaper. This looks like a battle cry in the face of a new broadband price war with chief rivals BT (BT.A) and British Sky Broadcasting (BSY) (read Shares view here), although the market remains nonplussed, the shares roughly flat at 249.4p.


Investors are jumping on the light emitting diode (LED) story of specialist tiddler LPA Group (LPA:AIM), sending the shares 12.5% higher to 76.5p. The share buying swoop is sparked by being named preferred bidder for Hitachi's InterCity rail contract, worth an estimated £3 million to LPA, not insignificant for a company with just £18 million of sales last year.


Energy supplier minnow Energetix (EGX:AIM) has got off to a stormer. It has signed up 10,000 customers to its gas/electricity supply business Flow Energy in six weeks since launch, even without its compelling micro combined heat and power (mCHP) boilers, which are due to be available next year (read Shares view here). The shares added 3.5% to 14.75p.


Employee benefits and insurance provider Personal Group (PGH:AIM) improved 1.1% to 392p after it secured one of its largest contracts in its 29-year history. The group has won a tender to provide employee benefits to Network Rail's 35,000 employees across the UK, with the programme set to launch in the third quarter of 2013.


Monday also saw debut dealings in the UK’s first student accommodation real estate investment trust (REIT), GCP Student Living (DIGS). Its shares opened at 103.7p after the investment trust raised £70 million at 100p last week for investment in purpose-built private student rental accommodation in London.


Shares in oil explorer Aminex (AEX:AIM) plunged 30.8% to 2.63p after the group's results revealed delays in farming out an interest in its Ruvuma asset in Tanzania and divesting its non-core US assets.


North Sea-focused energy firm Xcite Energy (XEL:AIM) gushed 9.7% higher to 101.5p after it netted $15 million from the sale of well data relating to its Bentley field.


Shares in California-based oil producer Sefton Resources (SER:AIM) advanced 7.8% to 0.49p after the group outlined plans to grow revenues and reserves this year. In 2012, profits fell from $2.9 million to $2.8 million.

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Issue Date: 20 May 2013