London’s high-flying FTSE 100 goes into reverse on Wednesday, off 50.8 points to 7,826.6 and following a similar pattern seen with Asian stocks earlier today as markets reacted to comments from US president Donald Trump regarding dissatisfaction with the latest round of trade talks with China.

The commodities sector is the worst hit with shares in miners and oil producers taking a tumble, not helped by talk that Chinese authorities want to intervene in the coal market to bring down prices.

Embattled fashion-to-food retailer Marks & Spencer (MKS) is marked up more than 5% to 306.8p despite posting alarmingly poor full year results. Profit before tax (PBT) slumps 62% to £66.8m after store closure costs, although the 5.4% drop in underlying PBT to £580.9m is actually a bit better than the market’s subdued expectations.

Like-for-like sales fell in both food and clothing & home last year amid cut throat competition, collapsing high street footfall and the consumer’s continued migration online. Nevertheless, CEO Steve Rowe and chairman Archie Norman are taking bold decisions, having announced an additional store closure programme ahead of the results.

‘The first phase of our transformation plan, restoring the basics, is now well under way and the actions taken have increased the velocity of change running through our business,’ insists Rowe, who says ‘the team is now tackling transforming our culture to make M&S a faster, lower cost, more commercial, more digital business.'

Soft drinks giant Britvic (BVIC) fizzes 45.5p or 6% higher to 804p after serving up solid half year results showing a strong second half sales rebound in spite of poor weather. There’s a positive outlook statement from CEO Simon Litherland, whose Fruit Shoot-to-Robinsons producing charge appears to be coping well with the sugar tax; investors are also treated to a 9.7% hike in the dividend to 7.9p.

Elsewhere, IT infrastructure services specialist Softcat (SCT) skips 7.1% higher to 708p on news full year results should beat market expectations, market conditions and customer demand both remaining strong during the third quarter to April.

Engineering services outsourcer Babcock International (BAB) improves 31.8p to 796.2p as full year sales come in ahead of market estimates, Babcock raises the dividend for the seventeenth consecutive year and reports a year-end order book and bid pipeline worth £31bn.

Dairy Crest (DCG) sours 7.3% to 497.4p, despite the British dairy company reporting strong annual results and good sales growth momentum going into the new financial year, as investors react to the dilution arising from a placing to fund the expansion of its cheese production capacity.

Stride Gaming (STR:AIM) slides 15p lower to 187p as the market overlooks positive half year results and focuses on a cautious outlook statement. Stride states that ‘whilst the UK remains the largest regulated online gaming market in the world it is experiencing greater regulatory and fiscal focus than ever before which is making it a more challenging market to operate in.'

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Issue Date: 23 May 2018