The FTSE 100 starts lower this morning after weak Chinese data overnight and as Theresa May shows little sign of making any progress with the EU as she looks to save her Brexit deal.

Early on the index is down 1% at 6,811.16.

On the corporate front, we are clearly winding down for Christmas now with only a handful of announcements out.

Three pretty disparate companies help warm up a cold morning with better than expected trading.

Balfour Beatty (BBY) reveals full-year performance will be above previous expectations in the wake of an additional infrastructure investments sale in December. Investors marking the shares 4.8% higher to 257.8p in response

The group forecasts that the 2018 Infrastructure Investments profit from disposals would be around £65m.

Group revenue in the second half of 2018 will be in line with the first half, and the year-end order book was expected around £12bn, higher than the 2017 year-end order book of £11.4bn.

Daily Mirror and Express newspaper publisher Reach (RCH) says its performance for 2018 will be 'marginally' head of market expectations.

Revenue in the fourth quarter rose 23%, reflecting the acquisition of Express & Star.

On a like-for-like basis, revenue in the fourth quarter was expected to fall  5%, which the company said was an improvement on the third quarter.

Circulation revenue and publishing print advertising revenue were expected to fall by 4% and 15%, respectively, on a like-for-like basis.

Publishing digital revenue was expected to grow by 5% with display and transactional revenue growing by 8%, also on a like-for-like basis. The shares advance 5.3% to 60p.

Specialist recruitment firm SThree (STHR) says it expects to post a full-year adjusted profit slightly ahead of the current market consensus range.

Analysts were currently penciling an adjusted pre-tax profit of £49.0m-to-£51.4m, with a consensus of £50.3m. The shares are up 6% to 275.5p.

The company also announces that chief executive Gary Elden would stand down early in the new year.   SThree, which specialises in recruitment for the science, technology, engineering and math sectors, known as STEM, said it experienced a 'strong' finish to the year.

New float litigation financing firm Manolete (MANO:AIM) began life on AIM. Priced at 175p, the shares are trading materially higher this morning at 215p, perhaps riding on the coat tails of peer Burford Capital (BUR:AIM) which has been a big junior market success story.

Heading in the opposite direction is performance materials specialist Low & Bonar (LWB) which shows a big drop in profit for its year to 30 November and says it expects to pay a ‘reduced’ final dividend. The shares dive 13.6% to 17.7p.

Elsewhere Aggreko (AGK) is awarded a $200m supply contract by The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to supply temporary electricity systems.

As part of the supply contract Aggreko Events Services Japan would provide temporary electricity systems to support the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Its shares tick up 0.5% to 718.6p.

Issue Date: 14 Dec 2018