Telecomms heavyweight BT today reported a 13 per cent decline in half-year pre-tax profits to 948m pounds, but said the recently introduced BT Sport package had made a 'confident start'. Shares in the group floated higher, encouraged by a 13 per cent jump in the interim dividend to 3.4p and a reaffirmation of the full-year outlook.
Also heading north was BG Group, which predicted that production would recover in the fourth quarter, helped by the completion of its North Sea maintenance shutdowns and new projects coming on stream, particularly the Jasmine field in the North Sea.
Shares in Resolution entered positive territory after the insurer announced a cash return and on the back of positive comments from Barclays, which said: "We believe Resolution will generate about £400m of cash in 2015, with incremental cash generation from management actions, the UK go to market operations and international offsetting the natural run-off of the back book.
"Furthermore, the strong cash generation may start to raise the question of whether the company can return its excess distributable capital, which we estimate could build to £450m over the next three years."
Meanwhile, the downside was led by Croda International, which plunged after warning on subdued underlying market conditions, the "significant devaluation of the Japanese yen and Indian rupee", and near-double-digit declines in "relatively low" margin but high volume commodity and toll manufacturing sales. Overall, turnover for the first half rose 4.4%, although underlying sales climbed just 0.8%.
Earnings declined more than expected at Royal Dutch Shell due to weaker refinery conditions, higher costs and lower volumes, pushing the stock firmly lower. Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said headwinds that continued to "erode the near term outlook" included weak industry refining margins and security issues in Nigeria but pointed to a strong flow of new projects and said Shell would increase the pace of asset sales.
Also in the red was AstraZeneca after it reported a fall in third quarter revenue. During the third quarter, core operating profit dropped 29% to $2.02bn as core earnings per share dipped 26% to $1.21.
Investec stuck to its 'sell' rating on Antofagasta's shares, pushing them firmly into the red, after the mining group's quarterly production report. Antofagasta reported a drop in gold and copper production in its third quarter reflecting lower grades at its mining operations.
FTSE 100 - Risers
BG Group (BG.) 1,285.00p +3.17%
BT Group (BT.A) 378.70p +2.49%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 357.00p +1.80%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,253.00p +1.40%
Aviva (AV.) 450.60p +1.33%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,842.00p +1.11%
Old Mutual (OML) 204.50p +0.89%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,191.00p +0.85%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 217.20p +0.84%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 699.00p +0.79%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Croda International (CRDA) 2,511.00p -4.71%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,175.50p -4.46%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,088.50p -4.37%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 865.50p -3.57%
Fresnillo (FRES) 987.50p -3.09%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,671.00p -2.69%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,504.50p -1.92%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,452.00p -1.76%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 3,276.00p -1.62%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 222.80p -1.46%