Broadband and calls supplier TalkTalk (TALK) has slumped into the red for the first six months to 30 September as the cost of new customers dents profits and sends the share price spinning lower.

Stock in the telecoms group dive more than 17% in early trade on Wednesday after posting a pre-tax loss of £75m compared to a £30m profit last year. Revenue also fell to £856m from £902m.

That sets the tone for weak start to trading across London’s stock market, with the FTSE 100 sliding around 21 points lower at 7,393.34. Midcaps are also trading in the red with the FTSE 250 down 86 points to 19,758.68, as the mood surrounding Brexit negotiations continues to feel negative.

STEADY COMMODITIES

Gold prices firm on Wednesday as investors hang on for October consumer inflation data from the United States. This could provide possible hints on the Federal Reserve's monetary tightening policy.

Oil prices decline about 1%, continuing Tuesday's slide after the International Energy Agency cast doubts over the past few months' narrative of tightening fuel markets.

BREAD MAKER RISES

Better news among corporates comes from Premier Foods (PFD). Shares in the embattled cakes and bread baker rise close on 5% to 38.25p after reporting a 1.5% revenue rise in the six months to 30 September after a stronger performance in the second quarter.

That helps the group return to profit, albeit a modest £0.3m, but a relief after running up pre-tax losses worth £55.6m at the same stage in 2016.

Specialist engineer Fenner (FENR) is also a firm riser on Wednesday, the stock posting a 6%-plus gain to 357.75p to head the FTSE All Share leader board.

It too has returned to the black for the full year to 31 August despite challenging market thanks to a 14% increase in revenues. Fenner also hikes its dividend 40% to 2.8p per share.

GAMING STILL HARD WORK

But video game retailer Game Digital (GMD) continues to struggle, announcing more losses amid what it clearly finds as challenging markets. The company posts a pre-tax loss of £10m for the 12 months to 29 July.

But management rhetoric is a little more upbeat on early trading in the new year and ahead of the vital Christmas peak. The loss last year compares to a £1.1m profit in the previous 12 months. Sales fell 3.6% to £782.9m.

Banking giant HSBC (HSBA) has reportedly agreed to pay €300m (£269m approximately) to French authorities to settle a long-running investigation into tax evasion by French clients.

The French financial prosecutor's office claimed HSBC's Swiss private banking unit helped clients evade tax.

AIM STAR’S 1,579% RISE

Among smaller companies, robotic automation software sensation Blue Prism (PRSM:AIM) has lifted full year revenue guidance again, implying a jump of 126% to £21.8m.

But word that losses will be roughly in line with expectations of £7.4m holds the share price back, down 2% at £13.10.

For the record, the shares have rallied 30% since the end of September and are up an astonishing 1,579% since IPOing at 78p in March 2016.


Issue Date: 15 Nov 2017