The Footsie begins Wednesday trading lower following downbeat performances from both US and Asian markets overnight and ahead of the latest manufacturing sector data out in the US later today. The FTSE 100 starts down 16 points at 6,606. 'Today we have the latest manufacturing PMI numbers for September (in the UK) and there is a risk that the uncertainty surrounding the Scottish referendum may have prompted a slow down here,' says CMC chief market analyst Michael Hewson.
Supermarkets weigh heavily on the blue-chips thanks to a disappointing second quarter from Sainsbury (SBRY) and confirmation that beleaguered Tesco (TSCO) faces a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) probe. The latter sheds 3.4p to 182.8p as it reveals the financial watchdog has launched a 'full investigation' into its shocking first half profits overstatement.
Rival Sainsbury's leads the blue-chip loser board, down 4.2% at 240.8p, as a disappointing second quarter trading statement triggers analysts to slash profit forecasts. Like-for-like sales excluding fuel fell 2.8% over the 16 weeks to 27 September, another quarter of declining sales as the supermarkets price war intensifies. New CEO Mike Coupe also warns second half like-for-likes will be similar to the 2.1% decline suffered in the first half. Morrisons (MRW) slides in sympathy, off more than 4% to 161p.
Shares in FTSE 100 oil firms are falling as the European benchmark for crude oil, Brent, slips below $95 per barrel on a strong dollar and ongoing concerns over the Chinese economy. BG Group (BG.) falls 2.2% to £11.15, BP (BP.) slips 0.5% to 451.4p, Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) is down 0.7% at £24.20 and Tullow Oil (TLW) drops 1.8% to 633p.
Video search engine Blinkx (BLX:AIM) crashes nearly 15% to 30.5p as investors dismiss the company's excuses over poor summer trading. Blinkx tells the market that half year revenue will come in at somewhere between $102 million to $104 million, well down on the $111 million posted in the first half last year, with adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) at approximately break-even.
Investment bank Numis (NUM:AIM) dives nearly 9% to 243p as it flags a weaker second half performance. In a trading update, Numis reports revenue growth for the year to end September of 19%, a period in which it completed 44 equity raises and initial public offerings, but says the business was impacted by a lower volume of transactions in the last six months.
Digital advertising display specialist MediaZest (MDZ:AIM) climbs 21.4% to 0.19p as it announces contracts in the retail and education sectors with associated revenues of at least £580,000. To put that into context turnover for the year to 31 March 2014 totalled £2.9 million and the group has a market cap of less than £2 million.
Home shopping-to-education supplies business Findel (FDL) cheapens 3p to 239p on a mixed first half trading update. Flat sales are offset by lower net debt and substantial operating profit and margin improvements. The running Shares Play of the Week will report (26 Nov) an interim profit before tax for the first time in six years.
African oil producer Afren (AFR) is ahead 3.9% at 107.5p after last night's announcement that an independent review into unauthorised payments, which saw both its chief executive and chief operating officer suspended, has not uncovered further wrongdoing.
Integration plans for Xchanging’s (XCH) 4 July acquisition of Agencyport have been put on hold. UK regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is to conduct a review of the deal to ensure it does not create a reduction of competition in the insurance software market. The stock falls 2.3p to 186p (1.2%).