London's FTSE 100 follows Asian markets down on Monday, despite a slight recovery in oil prices, with the blue chip benchmark 67.9 points lower at 6,841.5 as anticipation builds ahead of tonight's first televised US Presidential debate.
The market is in part weighed down by UK supermarkets, which head south as German discounter Aldi announces record sales and plans for a £300 million investment in its stores. Tesco (TSCO) ticks 1.5% lower to 178.9p, Sainsbury's (SBRY) is off 1.9% at 249.1p and Morrisons (MRW) is marked down 2.4p to 216p on the news.
Oil rig construction and refurbishment specialist Lamprell (LAM) is among the early risers, the shares gushing up 4.7% to 67p on the awarding of a US$90 million contract from new client Master Marine. The deal will see Lamprell upgrade the mobile operating unit 'Haven' as an accommodation service vessel for Statoil's (STL:OL) 'Johan Sverdrup' field offshore Norway, one Lamprell insists is 'one of the most prestigious projects in the North Sea'.
Housebuilder M.J. Gleeson (GLE) gains 10p at 595p as it reports 20.5% growth in annual pre-tax profits to £28.2 million and hikes the dividend 45% to 14.5p in a show of confidence.
Chairman Dermot Gleeson says 'our twin track strategy - the development of low cost homes for open market sale in the North of England and strategic land sales in the South - goes from strength to strength, delivering increased margins, profits and cash.' M.J. Gleeson also assures trading is 'business as usual' since the EU referendum and broker Liberum raises its price target from 660p to 693p.
Sporting goods retailer Sports Direct (SPD) settles back 3.1% to 293.5p following Friday's management change bounce, the shares having responded positively to news maverick owner Mike Ashley has taken over as CEO following Dave Forsey's resignation.
Russian E&P business Zoltav Resources (ZOL:AIM) surges 28.6% higher to 31.5p on the delivery of a maiden profit before tax for the half-year to June, which the junior oil company says reflects 'efforts on driving performance at Bortovoy's Western Gas Plant and on cost efficiencies'.
Renewable electricity and green gas company Good Energy (GOOD:AIM) rockets 12.2% north to 269p following a positive write-up in The Mail On Sunday.
Heading in the opposite direction is SpaceandPeople (SAL:AIM), the self-styled 'retail, promotional and brand experience specialist', which slumps more than 30% to 27.5p after swinging from £62,000 profits to a £174,000 loss for the half to June. SpaceandPeople warns 'trading across the group in the period since the half year end has been more subdued than we had anticipated', says it will 'need to perform strongly over the remainder of the year in order to meet our expectations' and also disappoints with a 'one year pause' in the dividend.
Respiratory disease-focused drug developer Verona Pharma (VRP:AIM) rises 3.8% to 3.4p, with management upbeat on the prospects for smokers cough treatment RPL554, where a recent fund-raising is set to ‘accelerate’ development.
The company also names Piers Morgan as chief financial officer. The former chief executive of drug developer C4X Discovery (C4XD:AIM) brings 25 years of financial experience in the life sciences sector to Verona Pharma.