UK markets take a pause for breath in early trade on Tuesday with little in the way of macroeconomic or corporate news to drive share prices one way or the other.

This is illustrated by a barely moving FTSE 100 index, which nudges around 12 points higher in early deals to 7,189.51. That’s a far cry from the 84 point bounce seen for the blue-chip index in Monday’s trading session following several days of extreme volatility.

On the corporate front, car dealer Pendragon (PDG) is in demand after performing far more robustly than the market gave it credit for.

While underlying pre-tax profit fell 20%, the £60.4m outcome for the year was not as poor as many industry watchers feared, with consumer spending coming under the threat of rising inflation. That helps lift investors spirits and the share price, which rallies 13% to 23.55p, although a far cry from the 39p levels of last summer.

The car dealer expects new car sales to grow 6.6% this year, a more downbeat prediction than the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, but offset by modest growth in the used car segment, where Pendragon is trying hard to make progress.

AUDIOBOOM EYES REVERSE TAKOVER

One-time popular private investor stock Audioboom (BOOM:AIM) has had trading in its shares suspended as it navigates a substantial acquisition.

The talk show and podcast broadcaster software company, backed by property tycoon Nick Candy, is in talks to acquire Canada’s Triton Digital in a $185m deal, one that would constitute a reverse takeover. Audioboom is trying to twist the arm of investors to support a £155m cash call to pay for the deal.

Consumer products giant Unilever (ULVR), one of the world’s biggest spenders on advertising, has threatened to pull the plug on ads from digital platforms, such as Facebook and Google if they ‘create division’ in society or fail to protect children, say reports.

Such a move would no doubt limit Unilever’s brand awareness, but this is seemingly a price it is willing to pay. Shares in the FTSE 100 nudge around 0.5% lower on Tuesday to £38.075.

HEALTHCARE NICHE PAYING OFF

Healthcare finance software supplier Craneware (CRW:AIM) is building quite a fan base as its reveals more new business won in the US.

Latest agreements are worth $8.5m in total, or in other words, about 13% of the $67m of revenue forecaster by analysts for this year to 30 June 2018.

Shares in the Edinburgh-based technology business rally close on 6% to 16.925, valuing the business at £457m.

Property trust A&J Mucklow (MKLW) posts largely positive interim results to 31 December 2017, lifting its shares by 2% to 500p. The figures show largely flat pre-tax profit of £8m although the group has upped its half-year dividend by 3% to 10.18p.

Mucklow will be joined by a new Real Estate Investment Trust if Core Industrial REIT gets its planned €225m fund raise off the ground. That would imply a €250m market valuation.

NEW FINTECH START-UP JOINS AIM

Also new to the junior AIM market is fintech business TruFin (TRU:AIM), having successfully raised £70m of growth funding at 190p per share.  TruFin provides supply chain, invoice and ‘dynamic discounting’ finance, the company says.

Oil prices rise on Tuesday, lifted by a rebound in global stock markets that followed sharp falls last week.

Gold prices hold firm on Tuesday, buoyed by a weaker dollar, while investors waited for US inflation data for clues on the pace of interest rate hikes.


Issue Date: 13 Feb 2018