London’s FTSE 100 kicks off the week in uncertain form as investors await key monetary policy decisions in the UK, US and Japan, with the blue-chip benchmark retreating 26 points to 7,676 early on.

Gaming group GVC (GVC) sparks up 5.4% to £11.54 on excitement over its establishment of a 50/50 joint venture with New York Stock Exchange-listed MGM Resorts to create a sports betting and online gaming platform in the US. Under the agreement, both MGM Resorts and GVC have agreed to capitalise the venture with initial commitments of US$100m each.

The joint venture follows the recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the US federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA. ‘To be able to team up with a partner with such pedigree and knowledge, particularly in the U.S., is a real opportunity for GVC,’ enthuses CEO Kenneth Alexander.

Lloyd’s of London underwriter Hiscox (HSX) is marked up 7% to £15.76 after reporting a 27% leap in first half pre-tax profit to $164m, driven by higher premiums earned. CEO Bronek Masojada says it has been ‘a good start to the year. Our investment across the business is driving strong profitable growth in all segments. We are on track to exceed 1m retail customers in 2018.'

Geotechnical contractor Keller (KLR) climbs almost 5% higher to £11.32 on stellar half year results revealing record sales, up 15% to more than £1bn, 18% growth in underlying profit before tax to £42.2m and a 24% hike in the dividend to 12p.

‘Despite a harsh northern hemisphere winter, we are reporting a strong financial performance for the first half of the year,’ says CEO Alain Michaelis, issuing a confident outlook statement with the order book remaining over £1bn and Keller ‘well positioned to benefit from the global trends of urbanisation and infrastructure growth’.

Senior (SNR), the high tech components and systems maker, skips 12.8p ahead to 317.4p on news first half trading has been ‘slightly ahead’ of expectations with margin progression in both the Aerospace and Flexonics divisions. CEO David Squires says order books remain strong across most businesses and expects year-on-year margin progression for the group.

Retail sector logistics specialist Clipper Logistics (CLG), whose customers include ASOS (ASC:AIM), Marks & Spencer (MKS) and Edinburgh Woollen Mill, crashes 17.3% lower to 335p as full year results miss expectations, albeit with sales and earnings growing by double digits.

Clipper's Executive Chairman Steve Parkin also spooks the market with his comment: ‘We are conscious of the wider forces affecting the UK retail sector; whilst this means that we have to bring an element of caution into our planning, recent contract wins, together with a strong pipeline of new business activity and the further evolution of our Click and Collect proposition, leave the group well positioned to achieve further growth both in the UK and internationally.'

Brickmaker Ibstock (IBST) slumps 12% to 244.8p on a profit warning, adjusted EBITDA guidance for 2018 downgraded to a £121m-to-£125m range following a weather impacted start to the year and due to the need for plant maintenance shutdowns and extra spending to sustain the quality and range of Ibstock’s production output.

Fresh pork, sausage and cooked poultry processor Cranswick (CWK) cheapens 42p (1.3%) to £32.62 as first quarter sales growth slows to 3.2%, although the food producer flags positive contributions from each product category and reassuringly leaves full year guidance unchanged.

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Issue Date: 30 Jul 2018