FTSE indices stole lower on opening with a flurry of trading statements failing to alleviate the dour pall hanging over the market. Supermarkets and resources stocks were the early market drivers of note.
Just after the open, the FTSE 100 was down 65.82 points, or 1.03%, to 6333.91, and the FTSE 250 was down 143.33 points, or 0.94%, to 15,026.7. The market is keenly focused on potential ECB stimulus measures ahead of a deluge of PMI data, while overnight losses on Wall St and in Asia add further downward pressure.
Tesco (TSCO), down 5.71% to 172.55p, led the blue-chips lower after its H1 pretax profit plunged 91.9% to £112m, from £1.39bn. Sales fell, too, and a proposed interim dividend of 1.16p a share was little cheer. Sainsbury's (SBRY) and Morrisons' (MRW) shares eased.
Tullow Oil (TLW) led the oily stocks down, falling 4.03% to 506.25p. While the Kodos-1 well found an active petroleum system in the Kerio Basin, the reservoirs were mixed quality and the well would be plugged and abandoned. BG Group (BG.) and Cairn Energy (CNE) also eased.
Several big miners were lower, led by a 2.27% fall to 3019.5p in Rio Tinto (RIO). A number of insurers, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods giants were also softer. Unilever (ULVR) fell 3.85% to 2436.5p on a 4.3% decline in turnover to 36.3bn euros for the nine months to end-Q3.
Premier Foods (PFD), down 12.03% to 30.13p, said Q3 market conditions have proved increasingly demanding and that it expected trading profit for 2014 to be towards the lower end of market expectations.
Foxtons' (FOXT) shares fell 18.39% to 167.55p after its Q3 turnover fell to £39.9m, from £41.1m a year ago, as housing transactions slowed. Q3 property sales commissions were £16.4m (2013: £17.8m), down 7.8%, as a reduction in sales volumes more than offset price increases.
Bloomsbury Publishing (BMY), down 4.91% to 152.38p, posted H1 adjusted pretax profits of £1.7m, from £2.3m. Turnover fell to £46.6m, from £49.2m, following the exceptional comparator year of 2013.
Ladbrokes (LAD) said it was on track to meet its FY targets after revenue and profit growth in Q3. It said group net revenue rose 13.0% (+9.6% exc. Australia) and group operating profit of £33.0m was up 94% (Q3 2013: £17.0m). Its shares fell 2.25% to 126.1p.
Stobart (STOB) swung to an H1 pretax loss of £8.8m, from the prior same period's profit of £1.2m. The swing to loss was due principally to £8.1m of finance charges related to debt repayment. It maintained a dividend of 2.0p a share. Stobart's shares rose 1.01% to 100p.
Britvic's (BVIC) FY revenues were up and strategic cost initiatives were implemented with a slightly higher in-year benefit than anticipated. It expects EBIT will be marginally ahead of the range £148m-£156m, and well ahead of last year. Its share rose 1.81% to 647.5p.
Reed Elsevier (REL) said its 2014 outlook is unchanged and that the company remains on track to deliver another year of underlying revenue, profit and earnings growth. Its shares fell 1.33% to 967p.