Cobham, Laura Ashley and Drax

“Blue-chips were down in early trading with investors looking ahead to the European Central Bank's monetary policy meeting accounts around midday. This afternoon, US jobless, building, housing and manufacturing data will be closely watched as traders assess the likelihood of a US rate hike in March,” says AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould.

“Aerospace and defence group Cobham’s shares plummeted after another profits warning as it revealed the scale of the charges it will take in its full-year results. The group is taking a £150m hit on its work on Boeing’s KC-46 tanker programme and confirmed a £574m goodwill writedown. 2016 was an incredibly turbulent and disappointing year for Cobham and it missed its forecasts badly. Cobham has held a series of meetings with Boeing over the tanker programme and while these have resolved some long-standing technical and conformance issues, completing the development schedule will remain challenging. Cobham’s shares were down by more than 23.8% in early trading.

“Fashion and homeware retailer Laura Ashley's like-for-like sales fell by 3.5% in the 26 weeks to the end of December and warned that net pre-tax profit for the year will fall below market forecasts. Online revenues, though, were up and the group will continue to invest to enhance that part of its business and now has an online presence in China having launched a website in November and it has signed a new licence partner for the India market. Laura Ashley’s shares were down by 12%.

“Power company Drax’s shares were down in early trading. The group’s full-year earnings have been hurt by challenging commodity markets. Drax is now reviewing its dividend policy and plans to hold talks with shareholders in the first half of this year. Drax’s shares were down by 3.8%.”

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