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London midday: Shares holding on

Date: Wednesday 24 Nov 2010

London midday: Shares holding on

Shares remain in the blue after some well-received company updates this morning, although the euro crisis is still looming in the background.

Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has cut its debt rating for Ireland as the Irish government puts the finishing touches to a four-year plan to slash its deficit. Banks are here are mixed with Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland higher, but Barclays is in the red.

Among today’s risers on the back of company updates is Compass, which has upped its dividend by a third as cash and new business flowed through the contract caterer's door over the past year. Revenues rose by 7.6% to £14.5bn in the year to September, with underlying growth of 3.2%.

Platinum giant Johnson Matthey is showing a bit of sparkle after it saw good growth in most of its markets in the first half, especially catalysts for cars in North America and Asia. Profit before tax rose to £144.1m in the half-year to 30 September from £109.5m the year before.

Capital Shopping Centres, formerly part of Liberty International, is slightly lower after has confirmed it is close to agreeing the purchase of Manchester’s Trafford Centre in a deal worth £1.6bn.

Interim results from water supplier United Utilities were slightly ahead of management expectations. In the six months to 30 September the company made an underlying profit before tax of £196.2m, down from £258.2m the year before.

Away from the FTSE 100, buy-to-let mortgage lender Paragon reported a sharp increase in full year profit on strong rental demand, a decrease in its provision for losses and as the turmoil of the credit market crisis continues to fade.

Sportingbet, the online bookie, is higher after saying it continues to see strong growth in the ‘in play’ side of the business. Amounts wagered in the three month period to 31 October – the group’s first quarter – rose 10.9% to £513.9m from £463.2m the year before, with the sums bet on sporting events in play rising 27%.

HaiKe Chemical, a China-based manufacturer of petrochemicals, speciality chemicals and biochemicals, has seen a 'material improvement' in trading in all of its businesses since its last half-year. The company posted an interim loss of $21.2m, against a profit of $10.8m, but following the recent improvement HaiKEe expects to recoup most of the first half deficit by the year-end.

FTSE 100 - Risers
Intertek Group (ITRK) 1,859.00p +6.05%
Compass Group (CPG) 553.00p +4.83%
Capita Group (CPI) 676.00p +2.97%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,032.00p +2.38%
Schroders (SDR) 1,614.00p +2.28%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 505.50p +2.27%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 1,421.00p +2.16%
Experian (EXPN) 741.00p +2.14%
Rolls-Royce Group (RR.) 611.00p +2.09%
Xstrata (XTA) 1,293.00p +1.81%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
Capital Shopping Centres Group (CSCG) 344.20p -3.18%
Aviva (AV.) 377.80p -1.43%
BAE Systems (BA.) 334.80p -1.18%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 518.00p -0.86%
Barclays (BARC) 262.05p -0.83%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,414.00p -0.77%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 225.10p -0.75%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 1,937.00p -0.72%
Prudential (PRU) 586.50p -0.68%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 613.50p -0.65%

FTSE 250 - Risers
Provident Financial (PFG) 831.00p +7.23%
Yell Group (YELL) 12.82p +3.81%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 164.80p +3.32%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 178.40p +2.88%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 25.78p +2.55%
Talvivaara Mining Company (TALV) 521.50p +2.46%
Yule Catto & Co (YULC) 238.90p +2.44%
Unite Group (UTG) 192.90p +2.33%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 124.80p +2.30%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 24.54p +2.25%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 23.52p -3.01%
Atkins (WS) (ATK) 692.50p -2.88%
Grainger (GRI) 91.00p -2.88%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 300.00p -2.82%
Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CW.) 63.20p -2.62%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 69.35p -2.26%
Rightmove (RMV) 735.00p -2.00%
Premier Foods (PFD) 16.99p -1.85%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 265.20p -1.78%
Mondi (MNDI) 462.80p -1.74%

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