UK stocks open largely flat on Monday with markets pausing for breath after hitting a two-month high last week. The FTSE 100 is trading roughly 4 points higher at 6,754 in early deals, with oilfield services group Petrofac (PFC) providing a drag after a profit warning.
The index finished Friday at 6,750.76, a closing level not surpassed since 22 September when it reached 6,773.63.
Oil services giant Petrofac (PFC) dives 24% to 907p as it warns on on profits. The group says net profit will be at the lower end of the $580 million to $600 million guidance for 2014 and says 2015's total will fall more than a quarter to $500 million against expectations for $675 million. The company blames lower oil prices and poor execution – we'll have more on the story on the site later.
Closed life assurance fund manager Friends Life (FLG) soars to the top of the Footsie leader board after receiving a £5.6 billion takeover offer from life insurer Aviva (AV.). Friends' shares jump 5.5% to 366.4p, although that's still a fair way off the 398.6p bid price. Aviva slips 3.4% to 520p.
Shares in the London Stock Exchange (LSE) are making decent gains after analysts at Citigroup raised their rating on the stock to 'buy' and hiked their target price from £17.50 to £24.00. The shares rise 2.5% to £21.52.
Anglo-Australian miner BHP Billiton (BLT) drifts 1% to £16.46 after saying it would implement more cuts to its capital expenditure as well as reorganise its management ranks. The group says it will trim $600 million from its planned capital spending to $14.2 billion in the 2014-15 financial year and by $1 billion to $13 billion in the following 12 months.
The forthcoming 'point of consumption' tax, which comes into effect on 1 December is weighing on gambling companies. Ladbrokes (LAD) falls 4.6% to 114.8p, while William Hill (WMH) is down 3.8% to 345.2p. The new regulations will see gambling companies with operations offshore pay tax on all bets made by UK customers irrespective of where the online operator is based.
Medical and industrial product distributor Diploma (DPLM) heads 1.9% higher to 698p as commodity currencies are boosted by monetary easing in China. Diploma’s healthcare business, which makes up over a third of profits, primarily sells in Australian and Canadian dollars but buys its products in dollars and euros.
Mobile retail software supplier MoPowered (MPOW:AIM) spooks investors again with another profits warning. The shares tank 31% to 5p on revealing fewer and lower value contracts than expected, continuing the disastrous performance since IPO'ing at 100p in December.
Pork products supplier Cranswick (CWK) leaps 5.2% to £14.05 as strong interims and a well-received acquisition prompt earnings upgrades. Adjusted pre-tax profits grew 11.4% to £25.8 million in the first half, while analysts have warmed to the acquisition of British cooked poultry producer Benson Park, a deal broadening Cranswick's customer base and protein range.
Chinese sportswear supplier Naibu Global (NBU:AIM) slumps another 12% to 13.88p as it warns of slowing sales and fourth quarter margins will be hit by discounting.
Digital advertising play MediaZest (MDZ:AIM) climbs 16% to 0.15p as it launches its first 100%-owned intellectual property asset – MediaZest Retail Analytics. The product, developed in partnership with Argus Global Biometrics Technologies, builds on Cognitec FaceVacs Videoscan - using this face recognition platform to provide anonymous data for the retailer to enable them to better understand their store dynamics, trading patterns and improve their customer offering. The group has already made its first sale.
Indian unconventional gas firm Oilex (OEX:AIM) is down 9.9% to 3.25p as the market reacts to potential dilution. The group announcing its listing in Australia has been suspended pending a planned capital raise.