Outsourcing specialist Capita led the upside after it said it had won 588m pounds-worth of new contracts so far in 2014, as it lifted pre-tax profits by 14 per cent to 215m pounds for the 2013 full-year. Revenues rose 15 per cent to 3.85bn pounds and operating profits increased to 516m pounds from 312m pounds in 2012.
Whitbread also rose strongly after revealing it is on track to report full-year results at the top end of expectations. In the 50 weeks to February 13th, the hotels and restaurants chain saw its like-for-like sales climb 4.0%, driven by its Costa and Premier Inn chains, where they rose 5.8% and 4.7%, respectively.
Rolls-Royce was rising strongly after it yesterday unveiled designs for the next generation of its fuel-efficient plane engines, returning faith to investors following a surprise profit warning issued two weeks earlier.
Reed Elsevier was also higher after saying it expected to deliver another year of growth in 2014 and posted an in-line increase in earnings of 7% for last year.
British American Tobacco was another big riser after it reported a 6% jump in 2013 core earnings to 216.6p per share, in line with analysts' expectations, as market share grew. The world's second largest cigarette maker said that without the impact of adverse currency movements in three of its four regions it would have reported a 10% rise in earnings to 224.7p.
Meanwhile, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) fell sharply after reporting its biggest annual loss since the height of the 2008 financial crisis as the lender underwent a major restructuring and paid fines. The state-backed bank reported an operating loss before tax of £8.24bn for the year through December 2013, up from a loss of £5.27bn in 2012, missing analysts' estimates of £6.7bn.
"It is still hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel of nationalisation as a sixth straight annual loss misses expectations and highlights the job that still remains," IG's Premium Client Manager, Will Hedden, commented.
Advertising giant WPP fell after revealing that a stronger pound in the second half of the year in key markets lowered reported margins by 0.2 percentage points, causing the company to miss its margin target. Significantly, the group said: "All in all, 2014 looks to be another demanding year, as a strong UK pound and weak fast-growth market currencies continue to take their toll on our reported operating margins." For its part, broker Jefferies said the numbers were "good, but probably not good enough".
Struggling UK insurer RSA was also in the red after it posted annual pre-tax losses of £244m and announced plans to launch a rights issue to raise £775m. RSA, whose shares
have suffered since it revealed accounting problems in Ireland ripped a big hole in its balance sheet, said it faced an Irish underwriting loss of £220m from management irregularities, reserve strengthening and adverse weather in the fourth quarter.
Insurer Standard Life was another big faller after it reported a strong 2013, but warned it may move out of Scotland unless it gets more certainty on the country's future currency and EU membership after a potential vote for independence. The group said assets under administration rose 12% to £244.2bn, driven by a 92% rise in net inflows to £9.6bn. Fee revenue rose 15% to £1.5bn, with the unit underlying performance up 25% to £704m.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Capita (CPI) 1,156.00p +6.54%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,383.00p +4.58%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 985.00p +2.44%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,716.00p +2.14%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,447.50p +1.17%
Reed Elsevier (REL) 918.50p +1.05%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,448.00p +0.91%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,362.00p +0.89%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,201.50p +0.87%
Royal Mail (RMG) 609.00p +0.74%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 325.70p -7.99%
WPP (WPP) 1,265.00p -4.96%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 97.65p -4.45%
Standard Life (SL.) 378.20p -1.82%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,346.00p -1.75%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 786.50p -1.69%
ITV (ITV) 198.10p -1.69%
Rexam (REX) 495.60p -1.67%
GKN (GKN) 405.50p -1.65%
Aviva (AV.) 465.30p -1.63%