London's FTSE 100 index is closing in on breaking through the 7,000 mark on Tuesday as positive economic data and solid blue-chip corporate news push UK markets to another record high. The Footsie gains 16 points, or 0.2%, to 6,957, nearing the intraday all-time high of 6,974.26 hit on Monday.
Among today's bigger movers, a cash-call at office fit-out and construction specialist ISG (ISG:AIM) takes the market by surprise, sending shares plunging 28% to 172p. Year-to-date losses on the stock stand at 50% after it was stung by larger-than-expected losses in its construction division.
Newsagent and convenience store operator McColl's Retail (MCLS) is marked down 8.8% to 155p despite posting robust maiden full-year figures following its IPO a year ago. News of disappointing current trading, with like-for-like sales in negative territory over the past 13 weeks in 'an increasingly competitive convenience sector' sends investors heading for the exit.
Set-top box designer Pace (PIC) rallies nearly 8% to 361.9p as full year profits and dividends rise sharply. Pre-tax profits at the Saltaire-based company rose 34% to £114 million in 2014 on the back of a 6% increase in revenues, to £1.7 billion.
Another profit warning from wireless kit maker Filtronic (FTC:AIM) sparks a swathe of jobs cuts in a desperate attempt to slash costs. The shares collapse, losing 23% to 13.62p, with the company warning that its Wireless business revenues will not build up as quickly as hoped.
Following a strong run, sausage skins maker Devro (DVO) cheapens 7.6% to 268.25p. Finals for 2014 are in-line with expectations, showing a material drop in profits, and good second half edible collagen sales momentum continues into 2015. However, downgrades ensue due to ongoing currency headwinds.
On the larger company side, Barclays falls 2.3% to 256.6p as statutory pre-tax profits dive 21% to £2.2 billion in 2014. The figure would have reached £5.5 billion but for its various fines and miss-selling compensation payments. It paid £1.8 billion in bonuses, including £1.1 million for boss Antony Jenkins.
Building supplies giant Travis Perkins dips 1.8% to £19.88 after an 8.4% increase in turnover translated to a 2.3% decline in profit before tax as early stage recovery in the construction industry has moderated.
Price comparison site Moneysupermarket.com (MONY) slips 2.8% to 260p as in-line 2014 numbers were undermined by a warning of tough comparisons for second quarter performance and a lack of guidance on 2015. There was also no comment on regulatory fears after the Financial Conduct Authority raised concerns over a number of adverts the company ran in 2014.
Industrial engineer Vesuvius (VSVS) gains 5.3% to 500p, as full-year earnings per share come in a couple of pence ahead of consensus at 33.4p. It announces management changes in its under-performing foundry business and says lower commodity prices are not helping its steel producer customers much.
Rotork (ROR), a manufacturer of electric and pneumatic motors, advances 5.7% to £25.86 as it reports full-year adjusted EPS of 131.6p versus market expectations of 125p. It says weak demand from oil customers will be a headwind this year.
Electronics manufacturer Laird (LRD) rises 2.5% to 350p as it posts its sixth straight quarter of growth and a strong full year performance. Organic revenue rose 8% before currency headwinds.
Specialist annuity provider Partnership Assurance (PA.) falls 2% to 145p on a 51.4% drop in operating profits to £63.7 million in 2014 on falling sales linked to changes in pension rules.
Home and vehicle insurer Direct Line (DLG) gains 1.6% to 336.1p as pre-tax profits rise 12.1% to £456.8 million in 2014. This came despite it writing 4% less business at £30.9 million and was the result of it paying fewer claims. Final dividend increased 4.8% to 8.8p a share, while a 4p a share special interim dividend was also announced.
Strong full year results from Taylor Wimpey (TW.) push shares 1.7% higher to 147.3p as the housebuilder delivers a 54% increase in operating profit to £480.7 million. The group has also raised dividends by 180%.
Heavy construction specialist Costain (COST) nudges 1% higher to 300p on the back of full year results which showed revenue at the £297 million cap rising to £1.2 billion in the 12 months to the end of December compared to £960 million in the same period a year earlier.