London's FTSE 100 pushes higher in early dealings, extending a 'Super Thursday' surge following the Bank of England's stimulus boost.
One of the day's biggest corporate stories involves Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which reports a widening of interim losses from £179 million to £2 billion due to rising insurance mis-selling compensation demands and other litigation costs. The UK-focused lender trades 4.5% lower to 183.3p after also warning that the Brexit vote could impact its business. RBS has also ditched plans to float 300 of its branches under the Williams & Glyn brand, preferring a trade sale instead. Spanish lender Santander is reported to be interested.
Adverse weather has reduced home and car insurer Esure’s (ESUR) half-year pre-tax profits by 1.9% to £45.6 million, sending the shares 5.7% lower to 263.9p. Increasingly cautious Esure also cuts the interim dividend by 28% to 3p a share. Though the insurer approved 3.7% more policies during the period, the ratio of claims paid to premiums collected rise to 99.2%, practically hitting the 100% break-even mark.
Brickmaker Ibstock (IBST) bounces 7.1% higher to 152.2p on robust interims, sales up 3.3% to £210 million with its UK clay business seeing the benefits of healthy activity from the new build housing sector more than offsetting brick destocking by UK builders merchant supply chain. CEO Wayne Sheppard says 'the EU Referendum result has added uncertainty to our outlook but, in advance of the important autumn period for new home sales, it remains too early to judge its full impact. It is reassuring however that, to date, current trading continues at normal seasonal levels.' Sheppard also adds 'the fundamentals supporting the UK housing market remain in place.'
Also bid higher is Bellway (BWY), the housebuilder marked up 4% to £21.10 as a positive trading update flags new records for volume and operating margin in the year to July. Boss Ted Ayres says 'it is still too early to assess the effect of the EU referendum result, however trading in recent weeks has been encouraging and Bellway, with its strong balance sheet and robust land bank, can be flexible and respond opportunistically to any changes in market conditions.'
Animal genetics specialist Benchmark (BMK:AIM) advances 7.7% to 63p on raising £30.7 million at a premium-priced 65p. The placing proceeds will help Benchmark to fund new technologies, form joint ventures and acquire breeding and genetics assets in the shrimp sector.
Generic drug-maker Beximco Pharmaceuticals (BXP:AIM) improves 4.4% to 32.7p on making its first shipment of hypertension treatment Carvedilol to the US. This is the first time a Bangladeshi company has secured approval to sell a medicine in the US.