Stock Market - Results in focus as FTSE keeps to tight range

MILAN (Reuters) - Earning updates were the main focus for investors in British shares on Tuesday with BP (L:BP) risings after quarterly profit growth at the oil major beat expectations.

Gains in the oil heavyweight and strength among consumer staples helped the FTSE 100 (FTSE) rise 0.1 percent by 0845 GMT, although the benchmark index remained within recent tight ranges, as other updates disappointed investors.

"A fair few to get through this morning with something like 15 percent of the FTSE reporting results today," said Neil Wilson, Chief Market Analyst at

BP rose as much as 1.6 percent as higher oil prices and increased output boosted second-quarter profit to $2.8 billion, four times that of a year ago. The company confirmed it would lift its quarterly dividend for the first time in nearly four years.

UBS analysts said the earnings beat was notable given that the oil majors had reported aggregate weak results, although they stuck to their buy rating and price target on the stock, which is up more than 9 percent so far this year. 

BP shares pared some gains to trade up 0.7 percent. 

Elsewhere results disappointed.

Centrica (L:CNA) fell 4.8 percent to the bottom of the FTSE, amid worries over weaker performance in its consumer business.

The owner of top energy supplier British Gas posted a slight increase in first-half earnings and said it expected to maintain its full year dividend at the current level. The result however missed expectations, while analysts also highlighted the weaker performance of its Consumer business.

"The UK Consumer division is leaking cash and customers... And while it's slowing, the loss of customers needs to be arrested fast – cutting costs is working for now but is not sustainable longer term," said Wilson. 

Just Eat (L:JE) was another top faller, down 3.8 percent, as worries over a build up in costs at the British takeaway firm overshadowed an upgrade to full-year revenues. 

Just Eat, which is locked in an expensive battle with Deliveroo to be the British takeaway platform of choice, said it would increase its investment plans to meet strong demand.

Bank Standard Chartered (L:STAN) and Rentokil (L:RTO) were also lower following their earning updates.

A strong report showing higher silver production sent shares in precious metals miner Fresnillo (L:FRES) up 2 percent.

Among mid-caps, Provident Financial (L:PFG) shot up 12 percent after results that analyst at Peel Hunt said showed the company appeared to be "on the mend", even though there was more to do, especially at its home credit business.

Provident Financial, which lost 70 percent of its value last year after a botched reorganisation of its home credit business led to two profit warnings, posted a 24 percent drop in first-half adjusted pre-tax profit.

Building materials supplier Travis Perkins (L:TPK) slumped 10 percent after saying its 2018 operating profit would be in the lower half of the range of analyst expectations due to weak demand in its home DIY market.

Source: Reuters



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