“Blue-chips were in positive territory in early trading after a torrid session yesterday when key UK and European indices fell as investors responded to political uncertainty,” says AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould.
“Oil giant BP was at the foot of the blue-chip index in early trading after a weaker-than-expected fourth quarter. Underlying replacement cost profits, which are the group’s preferred measure of performance, came in at $400m compared with $196m a year ago but down from $933m in the previous three months. BP’s latest figures benefited from higher oil prices and significantly lower costs. But these were offset by weaker refining margins and higher turnarounds in the downstream business. BP’s shares were down by more than 2.5%.
“House-builder Bellway’s shares rose following further growth in the six months to the end of January. Housing completions increased by 6.5% to 4,462 and the group has a substantial forward order book with a value of £1,121m. Customer demand continues to be robust and is supported by a competitive mortgage environment and the continued availability of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. Bellway’s shares were up by over 2.9% in early trading.
“DCC led the FTSE100 after it agreed to buy Esso’s petrol station network in Norway and confirmed that group operating profit for the third quarter was strongly ahead of the previous year. DCC Energy benefited from very strong organic volume growth in LPG while milder weather conditions in the UK were offset by colder conditions elsewhere. DCC Healthcare traded in line with forecasts. DCC’s shares were up by more than 5.4% in early trading.”
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