UK shares remain largely flat in early trade on Tuesday as investors await a report that is expected to show a slowdown in UK construction activity growth. The Markit/CIPS UK construction purchasing mangers’ index is estimated to fall to 58.8 in October, from 59.9 a month earlier. The benchmark FTSE 100 index is largely unchanged from yesterday's close at 6,359, while London midcaps and smaller companies are also stagnant.
In company news, Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered (STAN) heads the Footsie loser board after posting a disappointing third quarter and launching a $5.1 billion, or rough £3.3 billion, fund raise to strengthen the balance sheet. Its strategic review will also spark a round of swinging job cuts, with up to 15,000 on the block.
Food, ingredients and retail conglomerate Associated British Foods (ABF) cheapens 1.8% to £33.71 on profit-taking following a strong run. Annual numbers show marginally lower earnings due to the headwinds of foreign exchange and lower sugar prices. In the outlook statement, the running Shares Play of the Week also guides towards a 'modest decline' in adjusted operating profit and adjusted earnings in the coming year given currency pressures.
Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) climbs a modest 15p to £17.29 as it announces plans to accelerate the implementation of measures to deal with a prolonged downturn in oil prices once the acquisition of BG (BG.) is complete. BG also rallied on the news, adding 1.3% to £10.425.
Project delays are putting pressure on Diamondcorp’s (DCP:AIM) ability to start repaying debt, scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2016. The South African miner is now trying to strike a deal with its lenders but the market is clearly worried given the shares fall 5.8% to 8.12p.
Oil services minnow Getech (GTC:AIM) falls 19.5% to 35p as it accompanies in-line results for the 12 months to 31 July with a warning that results for the July 2016 financial year will be 'significantly' below expectations. The company, which sells geophysical data to oil and gas companies, is highly operationally geared and broker WH Ireland cuts its pre-tax profit forecast for the current year from £2.7 million to just £700,000.
Lansdowne Oil & Gas (LOGP:AIM) jumps 20% to 2.25p after the Standard Exploration Licence (SEL) 1/11 that contains the Barryroe oil field received term and area extensions from Irish authorities. Lansdowne has a 20% interest in SEL 1/11.
Microbe-focused medicine developer OptiBiotix Health (OPTI:AIM) rallies 5% to 59.75p as the company announces the filing of two new patents covering its cholesterol reducing product. This increases the number of patents from nine to 11.
ID security specialist Intercede (IGP:AIM) is also up, 3.5% higher at 134p, as it confirms a welcome 37% jump in half-year revenues to £5.5 million. That sparked a jump into the black to the tune of £500,000, versus a £700,000 deficit a year ago.
Elsewhere, takeaway ordering system Just Eat (JE.) tumbles 6.2% to 413.5p despite raising its full-year revenue guidance from £230 million to £240 million following strong order growth in the third quarter. Group like-for-like orders grew by 48% in the three months to 30 September with more than 74% of orders made via mobile devices.
Motor dealer Pendragon (PDG) loses 0.5p at 44.5p despite issuing a positive third quarter update, as a lack of further forecast upgrades and a comment the UK new car market 'has reached its natural level' disappoints some investors.