London’s blue chip index opened lower on Friday morning ahead of the publication of the UK’s latest manufacturing and services PMI data. These figures will help investors assess the health of the UK economy following the Brexit vote. Expectations that these reports will highlight lower activity sends the FTSE 11 points lower to 6,690.05.
In company news, high street icon Marks & Spencer (MKS) led the FTSE’s fallers after analysts at Barclays cut their price target on the stock to 290p from 410p. Shares fell 2.4% to 320.4p.
There was good news from CRH (CRH). The cement company climbs 3.7% to £22.75 on increasing its earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) forecast for the first half of 2016 to €1.1 billion.
In April it expected to make €1 billion during the period and an explanation will come when the interims are published on 25 August.
Another gainer was Vodafone (VOD), which advances 3.7% to 233.4p on service revenue beating expectations. Monthly phone charges of €12.3 billion during the three months to 30 June improved by 2.2%, bettering the 1.8% forecast.
Meanwhile, Argos-owner Home Retail (HOME) is marked up 5p to 154.3p as the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) unconditionally clears its £1.4 billion takeover by groceries giant Sainsbury’s (SBRY), off 2.1p at 225.9p, paving the way for the supermarkets operator to become the UK's biggest seller of general goods.
In the FTSE 250, carpets and floor coverings store chain United Carpets (UCG:AIM) weaves a 4.5% gain to 11.5p on better-than-expected finals with taxable profits up 23%. Like-for-like sales since the March year-end have remained positive and United Carpets has yet to see any discernible impact from the Brexit vote.
Investors are betting that Bond International (BDI:AIM) can get more than £15 million for the remaining recruitment parts of the business, hence today's near 10% share price jump to 112.5p. That's what will be left of the company after today's £27.4 million sale of its HR and payroll units to Tenzing Private Equity, hinted at by Shares in March, and what it needs to justify spurning a recent 105p per share offer from Constellation.
Gold miner Acacia Mining (ACA) rises 6.4% to 554.5p as first half sales increased to $505 million from $446,781 million in 12 months. This was mainly the result of production growing 12% during the period. Full-year production expectations are at the higher end of the 750,000 to 780,000 ounce guidance.
A profit warning sends South East and London-focused house-builder Inland Homes (INL:AIM) 4.7% lower to 63.2p. A contractor working on four of Inland’s sites going into administration led to a fall in completions. Management now expect the company to miss profit consensus of £15.9 million for the year to 30 June.