The FTSE 100 opens largely flat on Thursday as investors await the latest interest rate decision by the Bank of England.
The blue chip index edges just 6 points higher to 6,679.7 as the market expects the monetary policy committee to hold the rate at 0.25%.
Underlying profit before tax grew 11% to £157 million in the first half and Potts also reports 2% like-for-like sales growth for the second quarter, a third consecutive positive quarter for Morrisons delivered in deflationary market conditions. Shoppers are clearly responding to Morrisons’ lower prices and Potts also pleases by significantly lowering the grocer’s year-end net debt target.
Elsewhere, business information group Informa (INF) rises 1.3% to 702.5p as the board outlines its plan to buy Penton Information Services for £1.2 billion. The deal, funded by a £715 million rights issue, would expand the group’s exhibitions operations and boost its presence in the US.
CEO Simon Wolfson maintains the full-year sales and profit guidance given in August, though he warns trading was subdued in July and has remained ‘challenging and volatile’; Wolfson also flags a forthcoming sales hit, since higher cost prices caused by sterling devaluation which will need to be passed on to customers.
In the FTSE 250, enhanced annuity provider JRP (JRP) leads the risers shooting 13.2% higher to 110.2p.
Operating profits in the six months to 30 June beat expectations to improve 12% year-on-year to £48 million, largely thanks to the merger between Just Retirement and Partnership Assurance in April. The group sells annuities to those with a reduced life expectancy due to illness.
Electronic equipment distributor Electrocomponents (ECM) climbs 12.8% to 340.6p on a trading update which says the business continues to deliver solid organic sales progress in the six months to 30 June.
Revenue gained 2% across the period and picked up more strongly towards the end of the period, helped by a return to growth in North America. Shares flagged the stock as 'cheap for no reason' in a 13 August 2015 cover story at 196p.
Small cap engineer Redhall (REDH:AIM) gains as much as 34.3% to 11.75p on a government green light for the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear power project.
Redhall has a decent shout of securing contracts on the new build energy plant with partner Baumert, which worked on installing heavy-duty doors at a similar facility in Flamanville, France. Redhall is expected to return to full-year profit this year even without new nuclear work.