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Market Wrap - Market Open

FTSE mildly up ahead of Trump speech to Congress

28 February 2017 09:03

London equities opened on a mildly positive note with blue-chip gains led by in-the-news GKN (GKN) and Babcock International (BAB), and as sensitive global markets look ahead to US President Donald Trump's speech before Congress later today.

Not long after the open, FTSE 100 was up 3.88 points, or 0.05%, to 7256.88, while FTSE 250 was up 13.61, or 0.07%, to 18,684.7. At 8.26am, WTI crude was down 0.22% to $53.93/bbl and Brent was down 0.09% to $55.88/bbl. Gold, silver and copper prices were all lower.

GKN (GKN), up 4.5% to 358.45p, said its sales and profits rose in the year to end-December. Pre-tax profits were up 12% at £678m and earnings per share rose by 12% to 31.0p. Babcock (BAB), up 3.9% to 919.5p, said its FY outlook remains unchanged and that trading since the start of October had been in line with views.

In a session with blue-chip risers and fallers roughly evenly split, it was commercial property and retail-related stocks in cautious northbound focus. To the south, multiple miners, house builders and banks were centre stage.

British Land (BLND), up 1.02% to 616.25p, confirmed it and JV-partner Oxford Properties were in advanced talks about the possible sale of their interests in The Leadenhall Building. Land Securities (LAND) rose 0.62% to 1062.5p.

To the downside, St James's Place (STJ) fell 2.9% to 1056.5p as it more than doubled its FY pretax profit to £486.3m, from £174.1m, with gross inflows and funds under management both rising in a period of strong growth. Its CEO is depart at end-2017.

Taylor Wimpey (TW.), down 1.01% to 176.6p and guiding house builders, has hiked its FY pretax profit to £732.9m, from £603.2m. It had made a very good start to 2017 and was encouraged by robust trading and levels of demand.

Fresnillo (FRES), down 1.08% to 1470p, posted strong overall FY performance with record and in-line silver production of 50.3m ounces. Gold output of 935.5k oz beat revised guidance. Gross profit and EBITDA of $882.1m and $1,032.0m, were up 103.7% and 88.5% respectively.

Provident Financial (PFG), down 0.05% to 2920.5p, improved its statutory pretax profit for the FY to £343.9m, from £273.6m, and said it had made a good start to 2017. Total dividend was 134.6p a share, up from 120.1p. Adjusted basic EPS was up 9.2% to 177.5p, from 162.6p.


Red Leopard (RLH) was up an astounding 550% to 0.26p as its shares were restored to AIM, having raised £250,000 in a subscription, made certain board changes, appointed Beaumont Cornish Ltd as nominated advisor and Peterhouse Corporate Finance as its sole broker.

Strategic Mineals (SML) rose 23.46% to 1p after re-assaying of the maiden drill programme at its Hanns Camp project in Western Australia had identified significant cobalt mineralisation.

ebis (WEB), down 23.86% to 1.68p, said its FY pretax loss narrowed to $215,000, from a loss of $715,000, on more than doubled turnover. It continued to monitor developments in US online gaming laws, and assess strategic opportunities for the group's future.


Sphere (SPHR) fell 17.65% to 5.25p as it slightly narrowed its FY pretax loss to £5.1m, from a loss of £6.0m. Its Proxima 4 continues to gain traction, and plans were to make it available to a wider patient population across Europe. (MONY), down 11.84% to 309.45p, has lifted its FY after-tax profit to £73.5m, from £63.4m, but warns group revenues in the current year are behind those in 2016 even though it sees itself delivering on expectations for that period.

Meggitt (MGGT), up 8.36% to 450.9p, has turned in a FY pretax profit of £352.1m, from £310.3m, in what it penned as an in-line performance. FY dividend was hiked to 15.1p a share, from 14.4p.

Johnson Service Group (JSG), up 3.83% to 115.25p, reported another year of significant progress with revenues up 36.4% at £256.7m. Adjusted profit before taxation was up 45.1% at £33.8m. The strong financial performance reflected both organic growth and recent acquisitions.

Bodycote (BOY), up 2.1% to 728p, reports a a robust performance in the year to the end of December despite significant headwinds in some key business sectors. Statutory pretax profits of £91.9m were up from £75.0m.

Virgin Money (VM.), up 1.84% to 340.95p, has improved its FY underlying pretax profit and boosted its total income. For the 12-month period, the bank booked underlying pretax profit of £213.3m, from £160.7m. Total income was £586.9m, from £523.5m.

Go-Ahead (GHG), up 0.14% to 366.5p, said its H1 profits fell and the group has lowered its FY expectations due to challenges in the GTR rail franchise and a slowdown in passenger numbers in regional bus.

Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT), up 0.44% to 1034.5p, has reported a good performance for the year to end-December, despite challenging trading and economic conditions. Reported profit before tax fell 13% to £134.9m.

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