“The FTSE100 was in positive territory in early trading on a sparse corporate diary. Investors will be looking to services PMI data out mid-morning for the UK and eurozone, while this afternoon in the US, non-farm employment, manufacturing and jobless data will be in focus,” says AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould.
“Insurance group Beazley topped the FTSE250 board in early trading after a good full-year performance with pre-tax profits rising to $293.2m from $284.0m. The increased profits were driven by a higher investment returns but the bedrock of the group’s success remains its underwriting performance, which generated a combined ratio of 89% despite highly competitive conditions in many of its markets. Beazley’s shares were up by more than 6.1%.
“Johnston Press expects 2016 results to be in line with forecasts despite difficult trading in the summer prompted by Brexit-related uncertainty. Trading improved in the fourth quarter with revenues 1% up on a year ago driven by a strong performance from the ‘i’ newspaper. This compares to a 5% decline in the third quarter in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote. Imported paper and ink prices have risen due to the weakness of sterling but a continued focus on costs has enabled the group to maintain margins. Johnston Press’s shares were up by over 3.1%.
“Smart Metering Systems expects full-year results to be in line with forecasts. Continued investment in its gas and electricity metering portfolio saw the total number of assets under management rise by about 28% to 1.25 million in 2016. It also signed contracts for the installation and ownership of gas and electricity domestic smart meters with eight energy suppliers who currently supply about 2.5 million consumers.”
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