London’s FTSE 100 trades flat at 7,543.2 points on Thursday morning, the impressive rally since late March stopping to catch its breath as gains in the mining, oil and supermarket sectors are offset by weakness in utilities and insurers.
However, one insurer on the rise is Lancashire (LRE), which leaps 7.4% higher to 642.5p after posting a 48% surge in first quarter profit before tax to US$42.4m as it brought in more premiums. CEO Alex Maloney also sees the first green shoots of recovery in the energy sector and argues a sustained period of stable oil prices will boost energy insurance demand through 218 and into 2019.
Artificial hip and keen maker Smith & Nephew (SN.) stumbles, the shares marked down 6.5% to £13.09 to bring a recent strong run to an end. The reverse reflects disappointment as the orthopaedic devices play downgrades full year underlying sales growth and trading profit margin guidance following a weak first quarter.
Commodities trader and miner Glencore (GLEN) digs 4.3p higher to 362.2p after meeting first quarter production targets and saying it expects 2018 earnings to be within the top half of the previously announced $2.2bn-to-$3.2bn long term guidance range.
Also in demand is marine and energy industry services specialist James Fisher & Sons (FSJ), sailing 82p ahead to £17.88 on news of a good opening four months of 2018, during which the company has clinched a significant number of contracts in its marine support division. CEO Nick Henry says the full year outlook is positive, with all four divisions appearing ‘well set’.
Warren East-led aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce (RR.) cheapens 9.8p to 827p after saying trading is in line with expectations but costs are expected to rise following a requirement for more regular Trent 1000 engine inspections.
Birmingham-headquartered engineer IMI (IMI) sheds 4.1% at £10.83 after warning of continuing uncertainty for some of its major divisions, and a headwind from sterling’s relative strength versus the euro and US dollar.
Hungary-based budget airline Wizz Air (WIZZ) lifts 53p to £32.78 on news of encouraging 19% passenger number growth for the month of April. Investors are also celebrating Wizz Air UK’s first flight after receiving a UK operating licence.
Gold miner Centamin (CEY) edges 1p higher to 156.3p after posting doubled first quarter profits, supported by an uptick in gold production, lower sales costs and higher average realised gold prices, while maintaining full year production guidance.