UK shares gave back early gains as markets braced for a torrent of US economic data due to be released later today and ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow when US markets will stay closed.
As well as the weekly jobless numbers, investors will receive updates on the core latest inflation data, durable goods orders, and personal consumption trends, providing further evidence of economic strength and inflationary pressures.
Meanwhile the latest minutes from the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meeting, are due after the market close.
At 12.15pm the FTSE 100 index of leading shares was up just five points at 7,273.
Testing and certification firm Intertek (ITRK) was the best performer in the FTSE, up 6.6% to £55.00, after it reported ‘strong progress’ in the second half to date with revenue growth accelerating from below 5% to above 8% by the end of last month.
All divisions saw positive organic sales growth and the firm said it was ‘on track to deliver robust like for like revenues growth’ and margin progression.
Water company United Utilities (UU.) posted a 4% increase in underlying operating profits to £333 million for the first half to September as companies increased their usage coming out of the pandemic. The shares gained 0.7% to £10.76.
MID- AND SMALL-CAP NEWS
Shares in fruit juice and soft drinks maker Britvic (BVIC) added 0.6% to 883p after the firm reported an uplift in revenues and earnings for the year to September thanks to a rebound in the on-trade in the second half as hospitality venues were allowed to reopen fully.
Activist investor Crystal Amber (CRS) revealed that its continuation vote failed to achieve the required 75% majority vote meaning the firm has to ‘formulate proposals to reorganise, reconstruct or wind up the company’. Shares were unmoved at 121p in early dealings.
Among the firm’s biggest holdings at the end of August were an 11.4% stake in banknote and ID document printer De La Rue (DLAR), a 22% stake in payments firm Equals (EQLS:AIM), a 25.4% stake in oil producer Hurricane Energy (HUR:AIM) and an 18.5% holding in tech investor Allied Minds (ALM), which will all need to be unwound.
De La Rue itself posted a positive first half update with operating profits rising from £6.4 million to £17 million thanks to revenue growth in its currency and authentication business and cost reductions. The shares dropped 1.3% to 158.4p.
Shares in animal genetics firm Genus (GNS) plunged 15% to £44.66 after it warned that due to volatility in pig prices in China sales were below budget in the last four months and therefore full year profits would be ‘moderately below’ its original guidance.
Semiconductor firm IQE (IQE:AIM) also lowered its guidance for full year sales and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) due to weak fourth quarter demand for its wireless products and continuing foreign exchange headwinds. Investors were less forgiving, marking the shares down 22% to 39.5p.
Materials firm Johnson Matthey (JMAT) posted a 21% jump in first half revenues and a 102% increase in underlying operating profits for the six months to September, but revealed it would take a £314 million impairment charge after deciding to exit the battery materials business.
The firm also announced it was selling its advanced glass division and was looking for buyers for its health division. The shares dipped 0.6% to £21.68.
Compliance software seller Marlowe (MRL) raised its full year guidance after strong organic growth and a 61% rise in first half revenues helped by a series of acquisitions. The firm said it expected full year earnings to be ahead of current market expectations, sending shares 5.8% higher to 889.5p.
Luxury brand Mulberry (MUL) swung to a profit of £10.2 million in the six months to September against a loss of £2.4 million last year thanks to a 34% increase in revenues, propelling its shares 22.2% higher to 369p.
Cosmetics maker Revolution Beauty (REVB:AIM) posted a 39% jump in first half revenues, driven by strong demand in both the US and the UK, and confirmed its full year guidance. The shares dropped 1.7% to 127.9p.
Shares in concierge platform Ten Lifestyle (TENG) dipped 0.5% to 107p despite the group reported smaller losses for the year to August despite the impact of the pandemic on its members’ travel activities.
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