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Wednesday
Jan142015

 
Past performance is not necessarily a guide to the future, returns are before the application of Titan’s fees, tax legislation can change and you should always take independent advice in relation to your own financial circumstances.
Thursday
Oct302014

Thursday's Stock Market report featuring Barclays, Gulf Keystone, BT, Afren and IQE

The Markets

The US economy grew at an annualised rate of 3.5% in the 3rd quarter according to fresh data from the Commerce Department. This exceeds the consensus view of economic forecasters who had predicted GDP to rise by 3% during the period. The USA was boosted by a significant improvement in new exports and increased government spending, whilst unemployment has also continued to fall. The Federal Reserve viewed these positive economic developments as sufficient cause to announce the end of its stimulus scheme yesterday evening. Ben Brettell, Senior Economist at Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers, said that “today’s number represents a return to a healthy-looking trend. The most recent IMF forecasts suggest the US economy will grow 3.1% next year and 3.0% in 2016, and these could be revised further upwards in the coming months”.

Spain also looks to be settling into a pattern of forward momentum as the country posted it’s fifth consecutive quarter of growth. GDP rose by 0.5% between July and September, slightly slower the preceding three months but the year-on-year rate of 1.6% is the highest annual rate the country has seen since 2008. Spain is not yet out of the woods, with unemployment still above 24% and credit remains limited, but Martin van Vliet, an Economist from ING, said that “the nature of Spain’s economic recovery has clearly changed in recent quarters. For a long time, net exports were the only source of growth, but now that financial conditions have sharply improved and the labour market is turning around, domestic demand is taking over the growth baton”.

At the London close the Dow Jones had increased by 157.31 points to 17,131.62 and the Nasdaq had shrunk by 1.64 points to 4,088.91.

In London the FTSE 100 closed up by 9.68 points at 6,463.55 and the FTSE 250 rose by 64.18 points to 15,298.32. The FTSE All-Share increased by 6.39 points to 3,458.91 while the FTSE AIM Index shrank by 0.61 points to 714.58.

Broker Notes

Insurer and asset manager Aviva (AV) has been rated as a “sell” by Shore Capital with a target price of 517p despite positive news in its interim management statement today. Aviva is continuing to make progress in cash generation and has experienced good new business growth in the European market during 2014 to date. However, the broker has a negative stance as it believes the pace of growth will disappoint more bullish investors. Aviva also continues to trade at a premium relative to Shore’s valuation. The shares rose by 1p to 518p.

Westhouse Securities remains “neutral” on private investor favourite Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) despite the firm’s announcement that its development plan for the Akri-Bijeel development plan has been approved. The broker had already priced this development into its analysis, but says that it remains a positive for the Gulf Keystone investment case. Gulf Keystone also said it is in constructive discussions with the Government of Kurdistan, which triggered a rise in the share price yesterday. The shares grew by 2p to 65.75p.

Mine operator Diamondcorp (DCP) has a “hold” rating from Northland Capital after the company announced that development was proceeding on schedule at the firm’s Lace facility in South Africa despite strike action. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union is continuing to strike and the schedule may slip if this persists, but underground construction and drilling works remain on track. The broker supports Diamondcorp’s current hard stance on the union’s demand for additional, paid shop stewards. The shares dropped by 0.25p to 6.75p.

Mining strikes mean broker on fence over prospects

Blue Chips.

Banking giant Barclays (BARC) increased its statutory pre-tax profits for the nine months ended 30th September by 31% to 3.7 billion pounds despite a 5% drop in revenues from the same period of the prior year as operating expenses and credit impairments were significantly reduced. Non-core business assets performed better than in the prior period, with losses falling by 33% to 648 million pounds. However, Barclays provisioned another 170 million pounds for PPI compensation payments, along with 500 million pounds for ongoing investigations into potential currency market manipulation. The shares rose by 2.05p to 222.55p.

Oil & gas operator Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) beat forecasts in the third quarter, with quarterly core earnings up by 31% to $5.8 billion (3.63 billion pounds) over the same period of 2013. Profits fell from those in the prior three months due to a drop in production and declining oil prices, but management has reiterated its commitment to cost management and targeted developments. Shell also increased its third quarter dividend by 4% to 47 cents per share. The shares dropped by 8p to 2,227.5p.

Telecoms operator BT (BT.) increased pre-tax profits by 13% to 690 million pounds in the second quarter as its BT Sport division benefited from the firm’s costly acquisition of Premier League broadcasting rights. Overall revenues were down by 2% as highly volatile transit income was substantially lower than in the comparable period. Management increased the interim dividend by 15% to 3.9p. The shares fell by 7.6p to 367.9p.

Broadband cable and football rights lays groundwork for BT profit growth

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Mid Caps

Oil & gas exploration and production firm Afren (AFR) is considering re-stating its historic accounts after the recent revelation and independent review of unauthorised payments. Production at the firm’s wells was 35.5% lower in the 3rd quarter than it was in the same period of last year, with Afren outputting an average of 31,147 barrels of oil per day. Following the departure of compromised management and staff, the firm is focusing on improving operational performance and developing promising new assets. The shares fell by 14.55p to 78.7p.

Mineral extraction company Kazakhmys (KAZ) said plans to split off less profitable assets were proceeding well and should be completed soon. The plans to hive off elements of the business have received regulatory approval and were approved by shareholders in August. Rising production costs and falling ore grades at some existing sites have lead to falling output in certain product categories over the last quarter, but overall levels of ore extraction were flat. The shares dropped by 4.2p to 222.8p.

Transport operator National Express (NEX) has won and renewed a number of major Middle Eastern and European contracts since 31st July. Also boosted by performance and cost improvements, profits before taxation for the third quarter were 15% higher than last year. Management remain confident that the firm is on track to meet full year targets and has announced new investment plans, including the purchase of 250 buses for the UK market. The shares rose by 11p to 246.2p.

National Express picks up new passenger contracts

Small Caps

Revenues at computer hardware supplier Northamber (NAR) fell by 18.9% to 62 million pounds for the year ended 30th June as the firm returned to focus its operations on the more profitable areas of the business. This can be seen in the loss before tax, which only increased from 1.04 million pounds last year to 1.15 million in 2014 despite the loss of almost 15 million pounds in top line income. Management feel that performance improved in the latter portion of the year and expect that to continue. The shares climbed by 1p to 36p.

Housing support services provider CareTech (CTH) performed in line with expectations for the year ended 30th September. as plans implemented in past periods began to bear fruit and overall occupancy rates continued to increase. Renegotiated deals with local authorities have lead to minor improvements in commercial terms and the recent acquisition of training firm EQL is expected to provide synergies over the coming years. Full results will be released in December. The shares grew by 2.5p to 228.5p.

Semiconductor specialist IQE (IQE) has signed a contract worth around $1.1 million (0.69 million pounds) over the next 12 months to supply infrared materials to a leading microchip manufacturer, representing the single largest order of indium antimonide products in the firm’s history. Management say the scale of the contract is testament to the high quality of IQE’s offerings. The shares ended the day flat at 16.25p.

Farming and timber firm Obtala Resources (OBT) has agreed terms for the purchase of a 72.7% stake in a Lesothan department store operator for a cash consideration of $0.8 million (0.5 million pounds) and the taking on of $0.6 million (0.38 million pounds) of outstanding debts. The deal includes five retail sites within Lesotho that generated revenues of $10.5 million (6.57 million pounds) in the last financial year. Management view the purchase as adding distribution channels for existing products. The shares rose by 0.375p to 9.125p.

Defense industry group Cohort (CHRT) announced that its subsidiary MASS has won a contract to provide electronic warfare support services for two years to an unspecified export customer for 9 million pounds. MASS will provide manpower and design services over the duration of the deal and management believe that this win cements the firm’s reputation as the UK’s leading independent electronic warfare specialist. The share price increased by 5.5p to 242.5p.

Cohort hunts down 9 million pound electronic warfare deal

Wednesday
Oct292014

Wednesday's Stock Market report featuring BG Group, Next, Tullet Prebon, Plexus and Tangiers Petroleum

The Markets

There are fewer UK households where no adults are working than at any point in the last 18 years, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. Just below 16% of households with at least one adult of working age were workless in the second quarter, a 140 basis point drop from the same period of the prior year and the fourth consecutive annual decline. Geraint Jones, Director of Lancaster University’s Work Foundation said that, “as with other labour market statistics in recent months, the headline figures indicate a favourable trajectory [and] a continued reduction in the number of workless households would obviously be desirable”, but raised fears around the increase in part-time work and self-employment.

The number of new mortgages approved by lenders fell in September according to the latest data from the Bank of England, lending further evidence to the view that the UK property market is beginning to cool. The number of approvals for the month was 61,267, almost 3,000 fewer than in August and the lowest level of lending since July last year. Howard Archer, Chief UK Economist at IHS Global Insight, said the fact “that mortgage approvals are still falling and in September were 19.9% below their January peak levels – after lenders have now likely got to grips with the new mortgage regulations - points to an underlying moderation in housing market activity”.

At the London close the Dow Jones had decreased by 13.11 points to 16,992.64 and the Nasdaq had shrunk by 20.86 points to 4,085.76.

In London the FTSE 100 closed up by 51.70 points at 6,453.87 and the FTSE 250 rose by 110.79 points to 15,234.14. The FTSE All-Share increased by 27.11 points to 3,452.52 while the FTSE AIM Index grew by 2.87 points to 715.19.

Broker Notes

Financial services firm Standard Life (SL.) has been handed a “hold” rating by Shore Capital, with the broker expressing cautious optimism following the firm’s recent interim management statement. This showed positive AuM development and good proceeds from the recent disposal of the company’s Canadian operations. However, when the firm’s 73p per share special dividend is excluded, Shore believes that Standard Life’s valuation is “firmly in the mix” amongst quoted asset manager peers such as Prudential and Legal & General. The shares fell by 1.8p to 383.5p.

Standard Chartered (STAN) has been downgraded to either a “neutral” or “hold” by brokers at Nomura, Charles Stanley and JP Morgan Cazenove after the firm’s profits fell by 16% in the third quarter. The financial services outfit intends to cut another $400 million (248 million pounds) of costs in 2015, as it moves away from business areas that management view as non-core and as it re-allocates capital. The brokers have concerns about continuing revenue headwinds and asset quality. Standard Chartered shares dropped by 6.3p to 992.1p.

Beaufort Securities rates oil and gas producer BG Group (BG.) as a “buy” despite the firm posting results for the first nine months of 2014 showing a 26% drop in operating profits. These were caused by difficulties in Kazakhstan and the rising cost of new development assets. The broker believes that these problems are temporary and that the company is continuing to move forwards with new facilities that will lead to material improvements in the overall business. Rival brokers at Deutsche Bank and Jefferies concur on Beaufort’s “buy” stance. The shares grew by 18.5p to 1,044.5p.

Brokers think BG criticism is a load of hot air

Blue Chips.

Chemical specialist Johnson Matthey (JMAT) has agreed to buy the Clariant AG battery materials business for $75 million (46.5 pounds), with the deal including a manufacturing facility and an R&D plant in Germany. The transaction is expected to complete in early 2015 and will grant Johnson Matthey use of a number of patents relating to energy storage technologies. The firm expects the acquisition to break even in the 2015/16 financial year. The shares rose by 15p to 2,883p.

Miner Antofagasta (ANTO) saw reduced copper output of 5% in the third quarter of 2014 as throughput of concentrates dropped at two key sites, with gold output also declining due to planned maintenance activity. While molybdenium production grew by almost 50% as ore grades improved, this was insufficient to outweigh falls in other minerals. The group’s profits will be adversely affected by an increase in Chilean corporate taxes at the end of September. Antofagasta finished the day up by 3.5p at 704p.

Sales at high street fashion outfit Next (NXT) increased by 8.8% over the year to date, as directory revenues rose 13.7% despite disappointing sales in August and September caused by warmer than expected weather in the UK and Europe. This volatility has lead the firm to moderate it’s full year expectations to a 6-8% improvement over last year rather than the 7-10% growth that had previously been forecast. The shares declined by 20p to 6,415p.

Next hope to move on after disappointing weather dampened sales

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Mid Caps

Transport operator Stagecoach (SGC) has maintained profitability levels and has stuck to existing earnings forecasts. Revenues from UK rail services and London buses grew rapidly, expanding by 7.4% and 14.5% respectively for the 24 weeks ended 12th October. While other operations have grown more slowly, the trend is positive and the firm expects to comfortably meet expectations for the year ending 30th April. The shares rose by 1p to 391.5p.

Diversified minerals group Vedanta Resources (VED) announced that its subsidiary Sesa Sterlite’s revenues for the three months ended 30th September were 8% higher than the same period of the prior year due to increased copper and zinc output from its mines in India. Oil & gas output was negatively impacted by maintenance work, but has now returned to normal levels. Management continue to expect marginal improvements in full year results. The shares grew by 24p to 838.5p.

Financial services provider Tullet Prebon (TLPR) has noted that Noel Cryan, a former employee of the firm, is facing criminal charges in connection with the Serious Fraud Office’s investigation in to LIBOR manipulation. The company is cooperating with the FCA and all other relevant government offices regarding their enquires. Mr Cryan is the firm’s first former employee to face sanctions and is charged with conspiracy to defraud between February and December 2013. Despite the news the shares climbed by 8.4p to 282.9p.

Tullet Prebon dealing with SFO as old employee in the dock over LIBOR fixing

Small Caps

Shares in Tangiers Petroleum (TPET) rocketed by 0.33p to 0.78p, but management claimed that they are not aware of any reason for such a change. Stewart Dalby of Oilbarrel.com commented that the rise is most likely due to major new shareholders from the firm’s September fundraising increase their positions.

Also in the oil and gas industry, explorer Forum Energy (FEP) confirmed that it recorded revenues of $6.1 million (3.78 million pounds) for the first nine months of 2014, a 79% increase over the levels achieved in the comparable period of 2013. The increased income was largely due to the start of the second phase of production at the firm’s Galoc oil field off the coast of the Philippines. The shares rose by 4p to 33p.

Business to business communications specialist Artilium (ARTA) made a pre-tax profit of 18,000 pounds over the year ended 30th June, a welcome return to the black after last year’s 0.4 million pound loss. This came as the firm improved its market position and increased the scale of its projects. However, the company’s United Telecom segment struggled as the Belgian market became increasingly aggressive and the major market players cut pricing. The shares closed flat at 6.12p.

Medical devices manufacturer Tissue Regenix (TRX) reported an increased loss of 3.7 million pounds before tax for the six months ended 31st July after the firm’s commercial launch in US markets drove up administrative fees and development expenditures. However, the company reports that interest is beginning to build in its products and a number of new clinical trials have been cleared to start in the US and UK. The shares dropped by 2p to 22.75p.

Mobility solutions provider Crimson Tide (TIDE) has won a three year contract with Macdet Hygiene Services to provide its mpro5 system to 70 field users. The deal is worth around 75,000 pounds in contracted margin revenue for the duration and follows on from a 116,000 pound contract with a major retail chain that Crimson Tide signed a fortnight ago. The company’s revenues in the first half of 2014 were 0.6 million pounds. Crimson Tide closed the day up by 0.05p at 1.58p.

Oil & gas engineering firm Plexus Holdings (POS) hit record revenues of 27 million pounds in the year to June as it won new and repeat custom for its high pressure and high temperature applications. Profits before taxation grew by 25.9% to 5.38 million pounds, ahead of market expectations despite increased depreciation and amortisation fees. Management are concerned that recent oil price volatility could affect future prospects, but is confident that demand for energy will increase in the medium and long-term, and that producers will continue to take advantage of the safety offered by Plexus’ products. The shares grew by 13.875p to 250.875p.

Plexus believes patented pipes can withstand oil price pressure.

Tuesday
Oct282014

Tuesday's Stock Market Report featuring Stratex, BP, NMC Health, Fitbug and Utilitywise 

The Markets

House prices in England and Wales fell by 0.2% in September according to fresh data from the Land Registry, with the annual rate of inflation also declining, to 7.2% from 8.4% in August. This is the first time since May 2013 that the year-on-year rate has fallen. The largest regional decline was in Yorkshire & Humberside where the cost of a home dropped by 2.2%. In contrast, a separate survey by the Registers of Scotland showed that the average house price in Scotland in the second quarter of 2014 was 170,190 pounds, up by 5.2% year-on-year. Howard Archer, Chief UK Economist at IHS Global Insight, said that “house prices and activity have at least temporarily come off the boil”.

The Sveriges Riksbank has cut Swedish interest rates to 0% in a bid to raise inflation in the Scandinavian state. The executive board of the central bank cut the rate from 0.25%, despite relatively strong growth and economic activity. Rates will remain at this level until prices begin to pick up. With interest rates at their lower limit, the bank would have to look to unconventional measures to stimulate demand further, but analysts such as Knut Hallberg from Swedbank believe the central bank will be hesitant to issue cheap loans or engage in private asset purchases while the credit market functions well.

At the London close the Dow Jones had increased by 63.05 points to 16,880.99 and the Nasdaq had grown by 33.25 points to 4,079.26.

In London the FTSE 100 closed up 38.71 points at 6,402.17 and the FTSE 250 rose by 82.96 points to 15,123.35. The FTSE All-Share increased by 20.14 points to 3,425.41 while the FTSE AIM Index grew by 5.56 points to 712.32.

Broker Notes

Cantor Fitzgerald has reiterated its “buy” rating on minerals explorer Hummingbird Resources (HUM) after the firm announced high grade test results from its Yanfolila drilling programme. The broker believes that the remainder of 2014 is a key period for the firm, but that Hummingbird will be able to begin construction in Q1 2015 and is unlikely to be affected by the Ebola outbreak in the same way as some other African mining firms. The shares rose by 2.5p to 42p.

Financial services outfit Lloyd’s Banking Group (LLOY) has kept its “buy” rating from Shore Capital after the bank posted underlying profits of 2.15 billion pounds for the 3rd quarter, well in excess of the broker’s 2 billion pound forecast. The company has announced additional cost saving measures which include the closing of 150 branches and the loss of 9,000 jobs. The broker views the results as positive, but remains concerned with the wider UK recovery and its potential effect on the business. Lloyds shares declined by 1.84p to 73.5p.

Northland Capital has stuck to its “buy” position on Stratex International (STI), but cut its target price from 9.3p to 7.7p. Northland believes that the firm is on the brink of moving from being a developer to a producer, with the first shipment of gold from Stratex’s Altintepe site expected by the end of March next year. While this is good news, the broker has reviewed its valuations of some of the company’s other assets which has caused the drop in valuation. The shares fell by 0.02p to 2.05p.

Stratex remains gold standard for broker, as first production nears

Blue Chips

Banking giant Standard Chartered (STAN) faced subdued conditions in the three months ended 30th September, but modestly improved operating income to $4.5 billion (2.8 billion pounds) as the company’s retail and institutional businesses gathered steam. Profits before tax were $300 million (186 million pounds) lower than in 2013 at $1.5 billion (0.93 billion pounds) due to impairments and higher administrative costs. The shares fell by 96.6p to 998.4p.

Oil and gas behemoth BP (BP) saw profits before taxation for the third quarter almost halve, them falling from $5.1 billion in the second quarter to $2.6 billion in the three months to 30th September. This came as revenues from its Russian operations declined following the application of sanctions by Western governments. Nevertheless, the dividend was raised by 5.3% to 10 cents a share. Broker Liberum has a “hold” stance and 485p target on BP shares, which closed the day up by 6.75p at 437p.

BP playing Russian roulette, as Rosneft sanctions drag down profits

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Mid Caps

Aqueous polymer manufacturer Syntomer (SYNT) has suffered a 3% decline in sales volumes since July, missing expectations that positive demand seen in the first half could be maintained through the 3rd quarter. Cash margins remain good and there is some positive growth in the Asia/Rest of the World sector but operating profits are below 2013 for the nine months to 30th September. Syntomer now believes that full year results will not satisfy current consensus estimates. The shares fell by 13.4p to 199.4p.

Software developer and distributor Micro Focus International (MCRO) has received clearance from the German and Austrian competition authorities for its 729 million pound proposed merger with enterprise software business Attachmate. However, the deal is still restricted by the Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period required by US Federal Law - the only remaining merger control condition remaining. Management of Micro Focus no longer believe that this restriction will be lifted in line with the current merger timetable so have postponed the planned return of value record date to 24th November. Microfocus shares declined by 14p to 978.5p.

Middle Eastern healthcare operator NMC Health (NMC) made revenues of $161.2 million (99.9 million pounds) for the three months ended 30th September, an improvement of 18.1% over the same period of 2013 as occupancy levels rose by 1260 basis points to 72.8% despite capacity increases. The firm opened two new facilities during the quarter and expects them to be fully operational by the end of 2014. The shares rose by 13p to 494.9p.

NMC posts a clean bill of health

Small Caps

Recruitment specialist Nakama (NAK) surged forwards in the six months to September, with revenues growing by 29% to 11.1 million pounds due to strong demand in the UK and throughout the Asia Pacific region. The company made a pre-tax profit of 0.22 million pounds for the period, after losing 25,000 pounds in the comparable period. Management were upbeat on the firm’s prospects, saying that “there is an increasing feeling of confidence in the digital recruitment market at the moment”. The shares climbed by 0.55p to 3.875p.

African farming firm Agriterra (AGTA) remains focused on beef and maize operations in Mozambique, while reviewing its cocoa development in Sierra Leone in light of the West African Ebola outbreak. Revenues dropped by 23.6% to $13.8 million (8.5 million pounds) for the year ended 31st May as political instabilities led to difficulties in the transport and sale of the company’s maize products. Agriterra also fully divested itself of legacy oil assets during the period. The shares grew by 0.1p to 0.97p.

Personalised medicine provider Epistem Holdings (EHP) has submitted regulatory documents to the Indian Authorities that would allow the company to import and sell its Tuberculosis diagnostic test within the country. Management expect approval in early 2015 and are carrying out additional evaluations in Africa and South America. The company has accelerated other development programmes but saw losses deepen to 2.3 million pounds for the year ended 30th June. The shares ended the day flat at 287.5p.

Independent stockbroker Share (SHRE) faced reduced trading activity in the 3rd quarter as the UK market cooled, reducing dealing commissions by 4% relative to the same period of 2013. While conditions have improved in the current period, investor appetite remains lower than in the prior period, due to lower impact from IPOs and the changes to UK pension regulation. Share shares shed 0.75p to 39p.

Management of latest private investor hero stock Fitbug (FITB) were forced to comment on the booming share price following the firm’s deal with Target and Sainsbury’s last week. The consumer healthcare technology business said it knew of no reason for the share price rise other than these deals and that it continues to trade in line with expectations. Shares in Fitbug closed the day up by 2.33p at 6.23p, having traded as low as 0.375p at the start of the month.

Energy market service provider Utilitywise (UTW) continued its expansion into Continental Europe during the year ended 31st July with the acquisition of Icon Communications Centres. Profits before tax rose by 76% to 13 million pounds in the year as revenues rose by 93%, with Utilitywise winning major new partners including the British Chamber of Commerce. Investors warmed to the firm increasing its dividend by 54% to 4p per share, sending the shares up by 15p to 298p.

Utilitywise charging ahead following European acquisition

Monday
Oct272014

Monday's Stock Market Report featuring WPP, the banks, Petra Diamonds, Solid State and Quartix 

The Markets

UK retail sales rose at their fastest rate in over three years during the three months to October as supermarkets used promotions to bring in punters and as cooler weather helped the clothing industry. The survey from the Confederation of British Industry reported a retail sales balance - the difference between businesses reporting growth versus falling sales - increased to +33 for the quarter, the highest level seen since February 2011. This is the third consecutive month of strong sales growth, despite bad news in the hardware & DIY, specialist food and chemist sectors, which all saw drops.

Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s director of economics, commented that, “sales on our high streets are still ticking along and, with similar prospects next month, retail growth is looking more stable […] The recent fall in inflation may help lift the spirits of households by making their budgets stretch further. But risks remain to the UK recovery more generally, with the eurozone stalling, conflict in the Middle East and tensions over Ukraine. This could have an impact on consumer confidence and spending going forward”.

German business sentiment has dropped again, to its lowest level since December 2012 as concerns over the euro, Government policy and economic conflict with Russia continue to drag sentiment downwards. For October the IFO Business Climate index fell to 103.2 from 104.7 in September. This adds to fears that the economy will not return to growth in the second half of 2014, after GDP fell by 0.2% in the second quarter of the year. Andreas Scheuerle, Economist at Dekabank, said that, “the original mood killers - geopolitics, eurozone weakness, German economic policy and deflation concerns - have led to big downward revisions of forecasts and the weaker economic expectations are now weighing on sentiment

At the London close the Dow Jones had increased by 4.98 points to 16,810.39 and the Nasdaq had grown by 7.96 points to 4,049.97.

In London the FTSE 100 closed down by 25.27 points at 6,363.46 and the FTSE 250 shrank by 49.16 points to 15,040.39. The FTSE All-Share decreased by 12.82 points to 3,405.27 while the FTSE AIM Index dropped by 2.27 points to 706.76.

Broker Notes

Marketing and communications WPP (WPP) has been rated as a “buy” by Westhouse Securities in advance of the publication of results for the 3rd quarter of 2014. The broker is positive about WPP’s ability to take advantage of structural and cyclical improvements to business conditions over the last three months and believes that WPP will maintain its recent run of attractive EPS and DPS growth, along with excellent cash flow. The shares rose by 5p to 1,183p.

Investec rates natural resources outfit Anglo American (AAL) as a “buy” with a target price of 1,603p after the firm made its first ore shipment from the Minas Rio mine, meeting output targets while also hitting budget. The company expects to ramp up production from the site over the next 18-24 months and the broker believes that recovery costs will be at the lower end of the curve. The shares dropped by 11.5p to 1,296.5p.

Cantor Fitzgerald has recommended a “buy” on Rambler Metals & Mining (RMM) after the company published results for its last full year of operation, showing encouraging growth in copper, silver and gold output. Cantor Fitzgerald views the current 12 months as key, with the firm having issued robust production guidance and a number of expansion options being available to Rambler at its current sites. The shares climbed by 0.5p to 25.75p.

Broker thinks Rambler’s share price will hike

Blue Chips.

Financial institutions Barclays (BARC), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) all announced that they have passed the European Banking Authority’s EU-wide stress test, with both banks being well clear of the regulator’s CET-1 capital requirement of 5.5% and not being required to take further action at this time. The UK Prudential Regulation Authority maintains its own targets and methodology for stress testing and it’s analysis will be released in December. Barclays shares fell by 4.5p to 221.85p, while Lloyds shares dropped by 1.38p to 75.34p and Royal Bank of Scotland fell by 5p to 359.2p.

British banks not stressed by test

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Mid Caps

Oil and gas firm Ophir Energy (OPHR) has acquired interests in seven Indonesian exploration licences for a cash consideration of $31.3 million (19.45 million pounds). allowing the firm to access large acreages in highly prospective deepwater basins. Drilling will begin in 2016 and the deal increases Ophir’s total licenced acreage by 40%. The shares fell by 12.7p to 190p.

Petra Diamonds (PDL) pumped out 833,744 carats in the three months to 30th September, a record quarterly production level for the firm and 2% higher than the same period of last year. Revenues were up by 55% at $100.8 million (62.6 million pounds) for the quarter after the firm sold an 85% stake in the 122 carat Cullinan blue diamond for $23.5 million (14.6 million pounds). Management expect to trade well in the final three months of 2014, having already sold an exceptional 232.08 carat white diamond for $15.2 million. The firm flagged that the diamond market is showing seasonal post-summer softness but Petra expects it to firm up towards the end of the calendar year. The shares declined by 5.1p to 170.1p.

Petra Diamonds doesn’t sparkle after big stone sales

Small Caps

Shares in advanced surveillance technology firm Synectics (SNX) plunged by 100p to 215p after revealing that underlying profit for the second half of the financial year ending November will be significantly below market expectations of 5 million pounds. Delays to large contracts in the oil & gas sector and the lengthening of procurement cycles for larger projects in the UK public sector have hit trading, with an underlying loss expected for the full financial year. To rub salt in the wound Synetics has also scrapped its dividend for 2014.

Vehicle tracking systems firm Quartix expects a positive response to its upcoming IPO after significant interest from institutions and recent growth in the market as fleet managers begin to take advantage of its systems to optimise performance. Around 11 million pounds are expected to be raised on Wednesday and the company is targeting the 6th of November for admission to AIM. Revenues and profits both rose by over 60% in 2013.

Online entertainment firm Amino Technologies (AMO) has won a contract with a major European network operator to provide its A150 set top box to customers in the Netherlands. The financial terms of the contract have not been made public, but Amino has had a long commercial relationship with the firm and this will be the largest roll out of the A150 to date. The share price increased by 1.5p to 97p.

Specialised electronics manufacturer Solid State (SOLI) has made a strong start to its financial year and that results for the six months ended 30th September will be well ahead of the same period of the prior year and broadly in line with management expectations. The firm has not changed its full year forecasts and will publish full results for the six months in late November. The shares grew by 27.5p to 625p.

Oil firm Trinity Exploration & Production (TRIN) is looking to materially increase output at its key fields of the coasts of Trinidad & Tobago while diversifying into the gas market. The company expanded production to an average of 3,845 barrels of oil a day for the three months to 30th September and has also published a development schedule for an additional field. Trinity is considering funding options for these plans. The shares grew by 0.5p to 47.5p.

Crop nutrition and pest control outfit Plant Impact (PIM) harvested revenues of 2.5 million pounds in the year ended 31st July, more than double what it earned in 2013 as the company launched new products in Brazil as part of a long term deal with pharmaceutical giant Bayer. The company remained in the red, but reduced its pre-tax loss to 0.8 million pounds from 1.8 million in the prior year despite substantially increasing R&D spending. The shares rose by 0.75p to 29.75p.

Plant Impact makes monster harvest