UK share dealing gets off to a slow start on a typically quiet Friday morning session with investor attention elsewhere.

At the start of share trading the benchmark FTSE 100 is down roughly 25 points at 7,382.04, led by miners Evraz (EVR) and Anglo American (AAL), both off by around 3% at 373.7p and £20.495 respectively.

British American Tobacco (BATS) tops the FTSE 100 leader board on Friday, nudging around 2% higher to £29.255 as buyers value emerge.

STRIKE BREAKERS

In corporate news, Royal Mail (RMG) hopes to block a planned strike by workers ahead of its busy Christmas rush after making an application to Britain's high court. The company made an interim order to injunct the Communication Workers Union with respect to its recent postal ballot of Royal Mail employees for industrial action.

‘The company believes there are potential irregularities in the ballot, which would render it unlawful,’ Royal Mail said.

It also said industrial action would damage the company and its employees in the run-up to Christmas.

Investors do not seem overly confident of the company’s hopes of blocking the industrial action, the shares dipping roughly 1% in early trade to 220.7p. The stock has been in freefall for 18-months as investors fret over letters delivery volume declines and the firm’s ability to maintain dividends, slumping from over 600p since May 2018.

BUMPER GAMES BUSINESS

The FTSE 250 index is down around 90 points at 20,344.60, yet its biggest riser is Games Workshop (GAW), which has jumped 13.5% to £51.15 after its latest trading update.

The company said is the briefest of statements that trading between September and 3 November 2019 has continued well. Games Workshop now expects profits for the six months to 1 December to be ‘not less’ than £55m on sales of ‘not less’ than £140m.

Standard Chartered (STAN) has cut pension payouts to chief executive Bill Winters and finance director Andy Halford after protests from shareholders. The bank, listed in London but with a large presence in emerging markets, says that the pair will have their pension allowance reduced from 20% of salary to 10% from 1 January 2020.

Standard Chartered shares slide 1% to 726p, seemingly largely ignoring the new development.

Phoenix (PHNX) says that chief executive Clive Bannister will retire on 10 March 2020 after its results and he will be replaced by Andy Briggs, who left Aviva (AV.) earlier this year.

The insurer joined the FTSE 100 index in March 2019.

Shares in Phoenix dip 1.6% to 706.8p.

BIGGER BUYOUT OFFER SECURED

Insurance sector services and technology solutions provider Charles Taylor (CTR) rallied 11% to 352p after the company secured a better takeover offer from its proposed buyers.

The company had agreed a 315p per share cash deal but negotiations since have convinced buyer Lovell Minnick of 345p per share.

Specialist product manufacturer Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) said its underlying sales and operating margins had moved up slightly in the first nine months of the year.

In a trading update for the nine months through September, the company said it was trading in line with management expectations and that its outlook for the full year remained unchanged.

Morgan shares dip 0.8% to 259p.

British-airways owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) trimmed its medium-term earnings guidance for the three years from 2020 to 2022 amid a planned reduction in capacity.

Latest traffic stats also drag on the stock, which slides 1.2% to 538p.

Telecom technology testing and analytics company Spirent Communications (SPT) said it expected incur a one-off $4m cost associated with hiring new managers and developing its sales and marketing capabilities.

The company, which provides a lot of testing equipment and services for 5G mobile networks, saw its share price slip 1% to 199p.

POPULAR GROWTH TRUST MISSES

Growth company investment trust Scottish Mortgage (SMT) said it posted a positive first-half performance, though below that of its benchmark. The company's net asset value per share rose 3.2% over the six months through September, versus a 9.9% rise in the FTSE All-World index.

But investors brush-off the short-term performance, the stock flat at 520p, happy in the knowledge that Scottish Mortgage invests for the long-term and judges itself on five-year marathons, not six monthly sprints.

The company kept its interim dividend steady at 1.39p per share.

Insurance company Beazley (BEZ) said premiums grew in the nine months through to 30 September amid what it described as a difficult claims environment.

Gross premiums written for the nine months ended 30 September rose 12% year-on-year to $2.19bn. Shares in the firm rally more than 5% to 568.5p.

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Issue Date: 08 Nov 2019