London’s FTSE 100 firmed 44 points to 7,305 on Thursday as strong US earnings overnight helped to boost markets across Europe and the blue chip benchmark drew support from index heavyweight AstraZeneca’s (AZN) strong third quarter update.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) cheapened 3.1% to 226.5p as third quarter results came up short of expectations and the banking group slipped back into a statutory loss, with profits all but wiped out by a £900m PPI mis-selling provision. Income, costs and impairments were all worse than the market expected and there was no change to the cautious outlook provided at the half year results.

Drugs giant AstraZeneca improved 2.7% to £71.07 on third quarter results revealing better than expected product sales. With new medicines continuing to shine, and oncology products remaining the star, AstraZeneca confidently upgraded its full year product sales guidance for the second consecutive quarter.

Also in demand was Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT), until recently run by one-time star fund manager Neil Woodford. The bombed-out trust rallied 13.7% to 34.5p on the appointment of Schroders as its new portfolio manager with a name change to Schroder UK Public Private Trust to follow.

Consistently growing publishing group RELX (REL) rose 3.1% to £18.24 on news of ongoing underlying sales growth in the first nine months of the year. The media group also issued a confident outlook statement, reaffirming full year earnings guidance.

Investment platform AJ Bell (AJB) advanced 3.5p to 374.5p on a positive maiden full year update since its late 2018 IPO. Chief executive officer (CEO) Andy Bell highlighted a 17% hike in total customer numbers to 232,066 and 13% growth in total assets under administration to £52.3bn for the year ended 30 September 2019.

Heading south was RHI Magnesita (RHIM), the heat resistant materials supplier slumping 13.4% to £31.48 on a profit warning. Full year earnings guidance has been reduced to a €400m-to-€410m range due to a weakening of the global steel market combined with ‘the lower fixed cost recovery from reduced plant utilisation’.

Bulmers and Magners cider maker C&C (CCR) fizzed 5p higher to 367.5p as first half results came in slightly ahead of Shore Capital’s estimates, with the broker viewing the numbers as ‘further evidence of C&C emerging from a period of transition as a stronger and more competitive company’.

Budget footwear seller Shoe Zone (SHOE:AIM) rallied 7.2% to 127p as the retailer assured it would meet downgraded profit forecasts following a damaging August profit warning and flagged encouraging signs of a return to positive trading in the new financial year.

Braemar Shipping Services (BMS) softened 5.9% to 216.5p after reporting a fall in first half profit as a ‘strong’ performance from its shipbroking division was offset by weakness in its financial division.

KAZ Minerals (KAZ) climbed 4.5% to 471.8p after reporting a good third quarter with record quarterly copper production and the Kazakhstan-focused copper miner also forecasting full year gold production exceeding the top end of its guidance range.

Data security specialist GB Group (GBG:AIM) sparked up 10.5% to 582p on a strong first half trading statement, CEO Chris Clark guiding towards a 64% surge in sales to £93.7m reflecting healthy organic growth and recent acquisitions.

Mongolian oil explorer Petro Matad (MATD:AIM) gushed 83% higher to 4.97p on excitement caused by a positive test result from its Heron-1 oil discovery.

DISCLAIMER: AJ Bell is the owner and publisher of Shares. The author owns shares in AJ Bell.

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Issue Date: 24 Oct 2019