The FTSE 100 got off to a slow start this morning after US president Donald Trump signed into law a bill backing Hong Kong’s protesters.

Stock markets around the world fell sharply on the news, fearing that China will retaliate. Beijing has consistently warned the US and other countries against interfering in what it sees as its internal affairs.

The UK’s benchmark index no different to other stock markets, falling 0.5%, or 38 points, to 7,391.

Virgin Money UK (VMUK) was the big riser of the morning, soaring over 21% to 173p despite reporting lower than expected profit in its full year results and suspending its dividend.

Formerly known as CYBG, the firm said underlying pre-tax profit dropped 7% to £539m for the 12 months to 30 September, £5m below the £544m that analysts had expected.

However, the £385m hit the company took for PPI provisions in the second half of its financial year was lower than the £450m the market expected.

Vodafone (VOD) dropped 3.7% to 154p despite no news from the company.

This is because it went ex-dividend today, as companies do on a Thursday. When a company goes ex-dividend, new investors lose the right to the next dividend payment.

Transport company Go-Ahead Group (GOG) fell 3.1% to £22.06 as it slightly lowered expectations for its regional bus division’s annual performance, due to an increase in driver and engineering costs.

But the firm in its trading update said expectations remain unchanged for its rail business, with good performance in Britain offsetting difficulties in Germany.

Like-for-like revenue from the start of its financial year rose 2.5% in its regional bus division, but grew 8% in its London and international unit.

Marine engineer James Fisher & Sons (FSJ) dropped 1.5% to £19 after slightly lowering profit expectations in a trading update.

The firm said that while full year profit will be ‘modestly below’ board expectations, it’s still expected to be ahead of last year.

The company also revealed it had been subject to a cyberattack, but that the incident had no impact on it, with no indications of any transfer of personal or commercially sensitive data.

Ocado (OCDO) rose 1.1% to £11.78 as Ocado Retail, a joint venture with Marks & Spencer, announced its sixth customer fulfilment centre (CFC) will be located in Bristol.

The facility, which will be Ocado Retail's first mini-CFC, will have the capacity for over 30,000 orders per week, compared to approximately 85,000 orders per week expected from Ocado CFC 5, which is currently under construction at Purfleet.

Paypoint (PAY) edged 0.5% higher to 987p as it reported net revenue increased 3% to £57.3m on a reported basis and by 4% on an underlying basis in its half-year results to 30 September.

It attributed underlying net revenue growth to strong performance in its UK service fee revenue, which was up by 31.8%, in Romania which increased by 6.2%, and a 'resilient performance' in UK bill payments and top-up businesses which were up by £0.2m or 0.7%.

Excluding the one-off VAT recovery benefit of £1.7m and £0.5m Yodel impact in the prior year, underlying profit before tax was up 4% to £0.9m.

Property business Grainger (GRI) rose 2.3% to 288p after it agreed to forward fund a 132-home build to rent development in East London for £55m.

Grainger expects the investment to generate a gross yield of 5.5% and called the project a ‘highly attractive investment opportunity’.

Investment firm Rathbones (RAT) gained 1% to £21.60 as it acquired the personal injury and court of protection business from Barclays Wealth, the wealth management division of Barclays (BARC).

Rathbones said the deal, expected to be completed in the second quarter of next year, will be funded from existing capital resources, and will bring in another £500m of assets under management from 600 clients.

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Issue Date: 28 Nov 2019