UK stocks clawed back some of the early losses on Tuesday lunchtime but remained in negative territory as inflationary concerns continued to dampen investor sentiment.
Oil prices remained firm with Brent crude futures holding at $84 per barrel while sterling pushed above $1.36, adding to the headwinds facing export-reliant companies.
At midday, the FTSE 100 index of leading shares was down 0.3% to 7,127 weighed down by profit-taking in miners and financials after their gains of the last few days.
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However, the shares drifted 0.3% to £21.02 after the firm left its full year earnings target unchanged.
Shares in pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) ticked 3% higher to £14.33 on reports of private equity interest in its consumer health division which is due to be demerged next year.
Shares in low-cost airline EasyJet (EZJ) dropped 2% to 634p despite the firm posting a positive fourth quarter trading update with headline losses halving from a year ago and positive operating cash flow of £40 million.
The firm expects capacity to reach 70% of 2019 levels this quarter and said bookings for the first half of the new financial year were already double last year’s figure.
Bus and coach operator Stagecoach (SGC) posted a steady trading update for the quarter ended in September showing journey numbers had recovered to 70% of 2019 levels, although it kept its full year guidance unchanged, leaving the shares trading 0.7% lower at 82.3p.
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The Economic Advantage team saw its assets top £10 billion during the quarter while sustainable funds also recorded inflows.
Banknote printer De La Rue (DLAR) said first half trading in its currency and authentication divisions had been ‘positive’, with the firm maintaining it full year outlook. The shares added 1.6% to 169.4p.
Fashion retailer French Connection (FCCN) delivered a Covid-impacted first half trading update with revenues down 21% to £40.2 million, although underlying losses were reduced to £0.9 million compared with £3.6 million a year ago. The shares were unchanged at 20p.
Shares in platinum group metals mining firm Tharisa (THS) rose 4.8% to 130p after it reported the best quarterly production in the history of its South African mine in the final quarter to September, following on from record mining and processing in the previous quarter.
The firm raised its full year revenue forecast to slightly ahead of expectations, and despite marketing costs more than doubling in the first half said it saw operating profits coming in ‘substantially ahead of expectations’, sending shares up 4.5% to 96.2p.
Telecom testing firm Calnex Solutions (CLX:AIM) reported ‘continued strong levels of trading’ in the first half of the year and said it expected the trend to continue through the second half of the year.
As a result, the company now sees revenues and profits ‘materially ahead of previous expectations’, boosting the shares by 8.3% to 124p.
There was less positive news from building materials group Marley, which pulled its planned initial public offering despite ‘considerable’ institutional interest saying the current market volatility was ‘not in the best interests of the group and its stakeholders’.
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