UK stocks begin the week on the back foot, weighed down by an official recession hitting Japan and laggard miners. A profits warning overnight by US drugs giant Pfizer (PFE:NYSE) is also dragging on the UK pharma sector, with AstraZeneca (AZN) the second biggest blue-chip faller in early trade.
The benchmark FTSE 100 index drifts 30 points, or about 0.4%, to 6,624.
In a relatively light day for corporate news industrial materials engineer Bodycote (BOY) is off a fraction at 612.5p as four months revenues to end October drop nearly 4% as exchange rates bite. Chains-maker Fenner (FENR) is also down, falling 8% to 265.1p, still feeling the effects of disappointing the market with lacklustre and currency hit full year results last week.
Consumer health and hygiene giant Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) rises 20p (0.38%) to £53.45 as it provides the details of the demerger of its RB Pharma division. The pharma division, a profitable opioid addiction business whose Suboxone Film treatment faces generic competition, will be called Indivior and listed on the Main Market before the end of this year.
Mining giant Rio Tinto (RIO) and China's Sinosteel Corporation announce plans for talks for a second extension to the Channar Mining iron ore joint venture in Western Australia's Pilbara region. The original Channar joint venture was signed in 1987 to produce 200 million tonnes of iron ore and was extended in 2010 to produce a further 50 million tonnes of iron ore. That nudges the shares modestly up, to £30.66.
Broadband and calls supplier TalkTalk (TALK) has announced a new multi-year commercial agreement with Telefónica UK, which operates as O2 in Britain, for extended 2G, 3G and 4G services in the UK. But the shares fail to respond, with investors still worried about the FTSE 250 group's plans to bolster margins.
Wine warehouse chain Majestic Wine (MJW:AIM) is marked up 3.63p to 369.63p despite reporting an 11% drop in interim pre-tax profits to £8.5 million. The fall reflects previously flagged infrastructure investment, as well as weakness at fine wine specialist Lay & Wheeler, though investors raise a glass to 2.8% like-for-like sales growth in the UK, as well as positive progress with active customer numbers and online sales.
Paraguay oil explorer President Energy (PPC:AIM) dives 28.9% to 24.7p on what SP Angel describes as a more 'muted' update on its Lapacho well. Having already found light oil and condensate in Icla formation earlier in the drill programme, it now looks like it is drilling into a series of gas or gas condensate sands low down in the Santa Rosa - the well's primary target - although the group also says it is too early to 'state a discovery has been made' and promises to update in December.
Outsourcer Mitie (MTO) delivers a surprise loss in the six months to the end of September, sending shares in the company 4.7% lower to 277.5p. Mitie incurred £6.9 million of losses associated with its exit from mechanical and electrical engineering contracts. It also took a charge of £45.7 in its asset management business, mainly related to a contract to construct a waste-to-energy power facility.
Technical products supplier Diploma (DPLM) opens 1.5% lower at 674.5p as preliminary results for the year to end-September fail to wow the market. Revenue was up 7% and free cash flow grew 20% to £37.8 million, according to the statement, but chairman John Rennocks manages expectations lower, saying this year’s performance will present tough comparatives in 2014/15.
Unloved Chinese outdoor clothing manufacturer and distributor Camkids (CAMK:AIM) is clobbered as it tempers expectations for 2015 amid reduced consumer spending in China and news of order book weakness, tumbling 22.6% to 36p.
High-end carpets maker Victoria (VCP:AIM) thins out 7.7% to 390p, despite weaving gains early on as better-than-expected interims trigger upgrades. Pre-exceptional pre-tax profits surged up from £500,000 to a record £2.4 million, boosted by the acquisition of tufted carpet maker Westex, though investors focus on a widening of losses after exceptional items. Shares outlined our bullish view on the stock in October.