UK stocks slip back in early trade on Tuesday, losing earlier gains, as investors return to their desks to face a barrage of cautious economic data from the US. The benchmark FTSE 100 index eases back around 40 points, or 0.6%, dipping back below the 7,000 mark to 6,987. Oil and bank issues act as a key drag, although midcaps are so far managing to keep declines down, the FTSE 250 off 0.4% at 18,120.
Royal Mail (RMG) begins the day leading the Footsie risers table thanks to positive analyst coverage. Number crunchers at Cantor Fitzgerald upgrade the postal delivery business to 'hold' and up its target price from 440p to 500p.
Irish airline Ryanair (RYA) surges more than 4.5% to €11.42 after posting a 66% rise in full-year profit after tax thanks to soaring passenger numbers, which grew more than three-times the company’s targeted level. The budget flyer has also been rolling out several customer-friendly rule changes, although lower fuel prices have also come as a boon to the financial performance.
Among the bigger movers, little Israeli tracking technology firm Starcom (STAR:AIM). Its shares leap more than 50% to 8p as fund managers at Miton up their stake in the firm by more than a third to close on 6%.
Going the other way is solar panels minnow Powerfilm (PFLM:AIM), collapsing by more than 50% to 3.75p. That's thanks to a hefty negative reaction to plans to ditch AIM and cancel its listing, flagged prior to the bank holiday weekend.
Horticultural products supplier William Sinclair (SNCL:AIM) wilts another 10.2% to 22p on a disappointing transformation plan update. The new management team's detailed review has revealed a looming funding shortfall which could require a fundraising, asset sales or 'more aggressive operational changes' to resolve. Non-executive director Hugh Cawley's resignation also sends a worrying signal.
Elsewhere, software group Micro Focus (MCRO) closes its full year strongly, reiterating its guidance to treble annual revenues helped by the first contribution from its merger with The Attachment Group. The shares nudge close on 1% higher to £12.88.
Movie theatre operator Cineworld (CINE) is also positive after posting like-for-like revenue growth of 10.7% in its first quarter. Admissions are up in all territories except Slovakia and with a strong slate of upcoming blockbusters, plus expansion plans, investors are confident of a solid box office full year.
Boston-based drug-developer PureTech plans to list on London's main market in June to help bring its lead products to market. The company intends to raise $160 million from the float to support a pipeline that includes treatments for cognitive and metabolic disorders as well as autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.