Vodafone Group (VOD)

 

Housebuilders help build up FTSE 100

There was good news for the housebuilding sector as average house prices in the UK rose 5.7% to £243,945 in the year to 30 September.

Mid-caps Bovis Homes (BVS) and McCarthy & Stone (MCS) revealed strong results, which had a positive read across for the FTSE 100 housebuilders. Berkeley (BKG) led the charge, up 1.4% to £36.48 followed by peers Persimmon (PSN) and Taylor Wimpey (TW.).

Bovis Homes strengthened 1.2% to £11.18 on news that it was expected to deliver an increase in average selling prices for the year.

Retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone was up 7.3% to 157.9p following an improvement in margins and volumes in the year to 31 August.

The blue chip index traded 0.1% higher at 7,422 around midday.

UK inflation was unchanged at 3% in October, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Brent crude oil dipped 0.3% to $63 per barrel.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

Wall Street was stable overnight despite mixed financial results from General Electric and Barbie maker Mattel.

General Electric said it would focus on aviation, power and healthcare, which could downsize the conglomerate and prompted a 7.2% sell-off in the shares.

Mattel soared over 20% on reports that its rival Hasbro made a takeover approach.

The S&P 500 nudged 0.1% higher to 2,584.

MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Solid sales growth in Europe helped telecommunications firm Vodafone (VOD) upgrade its annual earnings forecast and pushed the stock 4.9% higher to 226.6p.

UK supermarket Tesco (TSCO) rallied 5.7% to 187p on provisional unconditional clearance of its merger with Premier store chain owner Booker (BOK).

Shares in broadcaster ITV (ITV) reversed 2.5% to 150.2p following a 1% drop in revenue in the first nine months of 2017.

Insurer Aviva (AV.) announced the acquisition of Irish insurer Friends First Life Assurance for €130m, but this failed to spark the share price at 491.8p.

Bus operator FirstGroup (FGP) failed to take off thanks to flat adjusted operating profit at £89.4m as hurricanes in North American cost approximately £6m by impacting contracts in Puerto Rico. Shares in FirstGroup reversed 2.2% to 107.5p.

British Gas owner Centrica (CNA) expanded into Italy via a five-year partnership deal with Eni Gas E Luce. Investors took the news in its stride as the shares only advanced 0.5% to 165.1p.

Global tech firm Smiths (SMIN) reported a 2% fall in sales and reiterated guidance that it would return to growth in the year to 31 July 2018. This limited damage to the stock, down 0.4% to £15.

Retailer B&M European Value (BME) was down 1.4% at 386.9p on a 22.5% fall in earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation to £5.9m in its Jawoll division.

Healthcare firm BTG (BTG) failed to impress the market despite reiterating its full year guidance and revealing product sales growth of 17% in the first half of the year.

Investors were feeling optimistic about UBM (UBM) after the events organiser announced that it expected full year financial results 'at least' in line with expectations. Shares in the firm increased 3.3% at 743p on the news.

Plastic piping manufacturer Polypipe (PLP) said strong organic growth in its UK residential systems and Mainland Europe division was helped by buoyant new housing activity and drove continued growth. The stock was marked 5.8% higher to 399p.

News that IT infrastructure services provider Computacenter (CCC) would deliver financial results 'comfortably in excess of its previous expectations' pleased investors as the shares advanced 7.6% to £10.63.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Power transmission products supplier Renold (RNO) revealed issues in its chain division are being resolved and it saw 'distinct signs of improvement' in its end markets. The stock gained 1.1% to 47.2p.

Equipment hire service Speedy Hire (SDY) accelerated 4.6% to 56.7p as adjusted pre-tax profit jumped 58.8% to £10.8m in the half year to 30 September. The company also hiked its dividend by 51.5% to 0.5p per share.

There was bad news from Trifast (TRI) as gross margins are expected to fall from 31.6% in the six months to 30 September to 30.2%. Despite being slightly ahead of the company's 30% target, the stock shed 3.9% to 238.2p.