London’s FTSE 100 shed 20.1 points to trade at 7,215.7 early on Tuesday. Markets were mixed as Chinese shares slipped on the back of weak producer price data and investors lost their appetite for the pharma, tobacco and utilities sectors. On the currency markets, the pound eased back against the dollar, falling 0.16% to $1.236.
In corporate news, Galliford Try (GFRD) galloped 15.6% higher to 711p after reviving talks with Bovis Homes (BVS) to combine their respective housing businesses. The deal includes a £300m cash sweetener for Galliford Try, which will be left as a ‘well-capitalised standalone construction-focused group’.
Sportswear retailer JD Sports (JD.) sprinted 5.3% higher to 666.4p after posting another set of record first half results. Despite the well-documented challenges facing the retail sector, JD Sports’ headline pre-tax profit shot up a further 30% to £158.6m, driven by greater demand for gym apparel and premium branded fashion.
Elsewhere, betting websites operator 888 (888) slumped 8.5% lower to 154.5p on first half results revealing a sharp decline in pre-tax profit from US$42.5m to US$27.1m with a plunge in poker revenue amid the negatives.
Equipment rental firm Ashtead (AHT) cheapened 2.5% to £22.30 despite delivering robust first quarter results. Investors have grown accustomed to upgrades from Ashtead and are disappointed by the absence of further upwards earnings revisions. While Ashtead insisted its North American end markets ‘remain strong’, it expects its performance to be ‘in line’ with, rather than ahead of, expectations.
Elsewhere, oil outfit Cairn Energy (CNE) gushed 7.3p higher to 184.6p after swinging to a first half profit and upgrading full year oil production guidance to a range of 21,000 to 23,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd).
Compliance and business services firm SimplyBiz (SBIZ:AIM) skipped ahead 3% to 205p on encouraging first half results showing strong growth in sales and adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).
Immotion (IMMO:AIM) sparked up 3.8% to 6.85p as investors applauded a positive partnership update from the company, which develops content to be used on a range of virtual reality (VR) motion platforms which also house its bespoke content management system.