UK stocks started the week lower after Asian markets sank as protests in Hong Kong and ongoing uncertainty over a US-China trade deal cast a shadow over trading. China’s Shanghai Composite index fell 0.5% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.6%.
At 8.30am the FTSE 100 was down by 0.5% to 7,319 with banks, industrials, metals, mining and oil equipment holding the index back while the mid-cap FTSE 250 index followed suit, down 0.5% to 20,245.
Food-on-the-go retailer Greggs (GRG) served up a tasty fourth-quarter trading update with total sales up 12.4% in the six weeks to 9 November and managed-shop like-for-like sales up 8.3% despite a higher prior-year base.
Full year profit is now seen higher than previously expected, sending the shares surging up 9% to £19.28.
Events and professional information group Informa (INF) delivered a 10-month update showing underlying sales growth of 2.8% ahead of its important November/December trading period which accounts for 20% of annual revenues. Shares drifted off 1% to 791p.
Mining firm Sirius Minerals (SXX) revealed a two-stage development plan for its Yorkshire polyhalite site which it says ‘significantly de-risks the construction of the project’.
The first stage, costing up to $600m (which has yet to be raised), is to sink a sevice shaft to the polyhalite reserve. The second stage, which could need up to $2.5bn in additional funding, would see production ramped up to commercial levels. Shares jumped 7% to 3.2p.
Wealth management firm AFH Financial (AFHP:AIM) posted a pleasing full-year update saying it expected revenues to exceed £74m against £50.6m last year and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of more than £17m against £10.4m last year.
In addition funds under management (FUM) rose 36% to £6bn. The firm stuck to its mid-term targets of £140m of revenues and £10bn in FUM, sending the shares up 4.5% to 287p.
Funerals group Dignity (DTY) posted an 8% decline in third-quarter revenues to £225m and a 30% decline in operating profits to £47.9m. Underlying revenue per funeral was steady at just under £3,000 as per expectations but fewer deaths meant lower activity. Shares slipped 3% lower to 511p.
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