UK stocks ease off in early trading Friday as investors adopt a cautious approach ahead of important non-farm payrolls figures in the US. The FTSE 100 eases back around 18 points to 6,860.

Miners lead the blue-chips lower, with Randgold Resources (RRS) off 3% to £47.855p, closely followed by Fresnillo (FRES), down 1.8% to 893p, and Anglo American (AAL), 1% off at £15.77.

Geopolitical uncertainty, particularly in eastern Europe has prompted a profit warning from performance materials specialist Low & Bonar (LWB). The group reports seeing demand fall off a cliff in civil engineering projects, roughly a quarter of the group's revenue, sparking a 17.5% collapse in the shares to 67p.

Fashion-to-home furnishings firm Laura Ashley (ALY) leaps 7.9% higher to 27.25p on better-than-expected interims and a positive trading update. The clothing designer and retailer's pre-tax profits rose 9% to £8.5 million in the half to 26 July, while like-for-like sales are up 8% in the five weeks to 30 August.

Healthcare software supplier EMIS (EMIS) is in upbeat mood after reporting forecast-beating interim results and hinted that it expects profits to get better still in the second half. But the shares barely move, up just 6.5p to 737p, having rallied more than 7% in the run up to today's figures.

Ashtead (AHT) trades 7p higher at £10.2s as analysts at Berenberg Bank upgraded their forecasts for the equipment rental firm. Josh Puddle and Simon Mezzanotte increased their price target slightly to £11.70 after Ashtead reported strong first quarter results on Wednesday this week.

Microcap training and recruitment business Kellan (KLN) soars 250% to 1.75p as the company returns to operating profit in the six months to June. Earnings, however, stay in the red at 0.02p per share.

Warehousing builder Raven Russia (RUS) improves 0.7% to 73p on offering to buy one in every 30 shares from its shareholders for a slight premium of 75p each. The offer will cost the company £18.8 million.

Issue Date: 05 Sep 2014