Today in the market

Today in the market

Market Moves
techMARK 1,488.10 -0.19%
FTSE 100 5,133.90 -0.50%
FTSE 250 9,142.31 -0.79%

Wall Street fell out of bed at the start of its trading day after the release of disappointing business activity data and London quickly followed the US market downwards. However, a rally in the last half hour ensured that the FTSE 100 enjoyed its best ever quarterly percentage gain since the index was established in 1984.

Travel companies TUI Travel and Thomas Cook were in the shade after the latter’s underwhelming trading update this morning. The company said that the trend to later bookings continues but ‘consumers are still going on their holidays.’

Fashion and food retailer Marks & Spencer posted a 0.5% fall in like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to 26 September as recession-hit shoppers stayed frugal. Chairman Sir Stuart Rose said he remains cautious on the company’s outlook and expects 2010 to be a tough year.

M&S shares fell back, taking sector peer Next with them. In what may not be an entirely coincidental piece of timing, George Davies, the founder of Next and the mastermind behind Marks & Spencer’s successful Per Una clothing line, launched a new clothing label today, GIVe. Davies plans to open 25 stores selling the new clothes line.

Hedge fund manger Man was the best performer after a bullish trading update. “Investor sentiment is continuing to improve across the industry, the performance outlook is healthy and the prospects for sustained industry inflows are very promising,” chief executive Peter Clarke said.

Airport scanning machine maker Smiths was also wanted despite pre-tax profits dipping to £371m from £380m in the year to July on sales up 7% to £2.67bn. The figures were a little better than forecasts, while it held the dividend.

Shares in Dairy Milk maker Cadbury were barely changed after the Takeover Panel gave US potential bidder Kraft Foods until 5pm on 9 November to make a bid for the UK confectionery company or walk away for at least six months.

Insurers remained in favour, buoyed by persistent rumours of sector consolidation, though Deutsche Bank has poured cold water on suggestions that investment vehicle Resolution will bid for Legal & General; nevertheless, the German bank upgraded the stock to ‘hold’ from ‘sell’ and also suggested that sector peers Aviva and Old Mutual are underpriced.

Support services specialist Babcock has lost its contract with Network Rail for High Output Track Renewal operations, but trading overall is as expected. Network Rail told it today that its Babcock SB Rail joint venture with Swietelsky Baugesellschaft had lost the contract, it said.

Travis Perkins, the leading UK builders’ merchant, said sales trends for the last three months are ahead of expectations but its current market consensus for 2010 remains unchanged. The group said turnover for the nine months to the end of September is down 11%. Its larger rival, Wolseley, joined Travis Perkins on the upturn.

haysRecruiter Hays Group is marked down after being named by the Office of Fair Trading as one of six recruitment agencies involved in a price-fixing cartel.

Care group Care UK could be on the end of a management buy-out after private equity firm Bridgepoint confirmed this morning it was in talks.

Online clothes retailer ASOS results to date are in line with management’s expectations and it expects the first half outcome to be marginally ahead of the prior year. Sales are up 47% for the 6 months to 30 September 2009, with international sales rising 110% for the period, which represents around 25% of total sales.

Greyhound bus operator FirstGroup said overall trading remains in line with management expectations but warned the transport industry faces a challenging year ahead. The shares shifted into reverse, along with sector peers Go-Ahead and Stagecoach.

Like for like revenues eased in the three months to end-August at financial services and healthcare software provider Misys, but order intake was strong. On a pro-forma like for like basis, which excludes the effect of currency movements and adjusts for the acquisition of Allscripts, group revenues declined by 2% in the three months to 31 August, while adjusted operating profit rose by more than 15%.
market down
Neuropharm, the pharmaceutical company focused on neurodevelopmental disorders, saw its pre-tax loss widen to £6.5m in the year to 30 June 2009 from £4.9m the year before. The company has no revenue.

Insolvency consultant Sterling Green swung into profit in the second half of the year due to a combination of reduced costs and increased revenues, but still posted a loss of £321,000 overall. The working capital position remains challenging, it added.

FTSE 100 – Risers
Man Group (EMG) 331.20p +7.50%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 87.80p +6.10%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 888.50p +6.03%
Aviva (AV.) 448.10p +3.92%
Wolseley (WOS) 1,507.00p +3.79%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
TUI Travel (TT.) 254.60p -4.29%
Liberty International (LII) 480.00p -3.94%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 232.30p -3.53%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 362.10p -3.39%
Next (NXT) 1,792.00p -3.14%

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