Global stock markets have slumped on fears that the US central bank will start to scale back its economic stimulus programme this year. This is on the back of comments made yesterday by the Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.
The FTSE 100, Dac and Cac 40 all recorded falls in excess of 2%; the Dow Jones yesterday closed down 1.4% and has recorded further declines today.
Gold fell more than 3.5% in value, taking gold mining equities down for the ride. Shares warned in May that the Fed's likely reduction in quantitative easing would have this impact on the gold sector. Reports also suggest that Indian imports of gold could decline by 30% after changes to government taxing measures. Weak economic data from China added to the market misery.
Among the select few companies enjoying share price gains was British designer brand Ted Baker (TED). The retailer jumped 13% to £16.60 as a trading update highlighted a fantastic start to the year triggered upgrades. Over the 20 weeks to 15 June, retail sales surged 30.7% higher while wholesale revenues rocketed up 41%, demonstrating growing international awareness of the fashion brand.
Dixons Retail (DXNS) jumped 3% to 43.58p after beating annual profit forecasts, even after saying in May that it would deliver numbers towards the top end of the consensus range. We look at the opportunities and challenges for the recovery story in more detail here.
Equipment rental specialist Ashtead (AHT) reignited its share price rally after the market lapped up news of an 87% rise in pre-tax profit for the financial year to April. Analysts said the fourth quarter period was much better than expected, prompting yet another round of price target hikes and sending the shares up 5.6% to 662p. Investec says that 2014 will be the first full-year that we see both structural growth (US companies switching from owning to hiring) and the cyclical recovery (economic improvements in the States) operating in tandem. Ashtead was one of our key picks in April's look at the asset rental sector.
Papua New Guinea-headquartered New Britain Palm Oil (NBPO) cultivated a 9% gain, up 42.5p at 522.5p. Shares in the sustainable palm oil producer moved higher on news Malaysia's Kulim, New Britain's biggest shareholder, is making a partial offer for 20% of the company, valuing the business at £825 million.
Industrial buyout specialist Melrose (MRO) slipped 3.8% to 237.6p after announcing the €212 million sale of its MarelliMotori electric motor business. The deal was announced against the backdrop of a weak market but the fall may also reflect disappointment at there being no mention of any return of capital to shareholders.
Go-Ahead (GOG) slipped 1.8% to £14.04 after the bus and rail operator's pre-close trading update for the year ending 29th June 2013 revealed that rail profitability was likely to be lower in 2014 due to Southeastern's unprofitable franchise extension and 'challenging trading conditions' in its Southern franchise.
Holiday operator Thomas Cook (TCG) dropped 3% to 122.7p after the group received 97% acceptance for its two-for-five rights issue of 409,029,271 New Ordinary Shares at 76p per share. The issued share capital of the Company comprised 1,431,602,450 ordinary shares after the issue.
A 3.3% fall in Interbulk's (INB) share price to 7.38p was caused by slumping first-half profits as the freight carrier struggled with ongoing headwinds in the European market. The group reported 6% lower revenues in the six months to 31 March 2013 due to depressed demand and temporary plant closures in the chemical and polymer industry in Europe.
A 1.8% rise to 14p in industrial services group Silverdell (SID:AIM) is more a relief reaction that the small cap continues to win new work, rather than pricing in the value of new contracts. The demolition-to-asbestos removal expert has announced £12.1 million of new business, yet only £2 million is expected to fall into the current financial year. This is not enough to trigger earnings upgrades. Silverdell has previously seen its share price under pressure because of market concerns over working capital requirements to achieve its 15% annual revenue growth target, as we discussed in detail in both a recent 'griller' article and news analysis.
Film production company Eros International (EROS:AIM) fell 10.8% to 210p despite better-than-expected finals, with £215 million of sales ahead of Investec’s forecast. The £292 million cap appears to have been the victim of rising risk aversion given its emerging markets exposure in India.
X-ray screening technology microcap Image Scan (IGE:AIM) crashed 22% to 2.25p as investors fear a value destroying cash call could be on the horizon after plunging to £0.39 million loss at the half year.
Investors seem to be catching the Fitbug (FITB:AIM), the mobile healthcare applications microcap rallying more than 8% to 1p on news that its apps will get included in new US heathcheck scheme, CarePass. Run by insurer Aetna (AET:NYSE), CarePass opens to door to over 44 million Americans.