- Stock markets continued to be volatile amid concerns about tensions in North Korea. The UK market in particular struggled with finance companies such as banks, asset managers and wealth managers among the large caps whose shares ended the day in negative territory.

The FTSE 100 dropped 17 points to close at 7,355. US markets fared better with the Dow Jones up 0.2% to 21,805 and the S&P trading 0.1% higher at 2,460 as of 4.20pm UK time.

On the UK market, the housebuilders mostly saw their share prices in decline thanks to concerns triggered by Barratt Developments' (BDEV) half year results and a warning from Berkeley (BKG).

Investors didn't like news that Barratt's net private reservations per average week had fallen to 265 from 267 last year. Its shares fell 4.6% to 595.44p.

Berkeley warned the London market was adversely impacted by Brexit and recent changes to stamp duty land tax. This overshadowed the company's announcement it is on track to deliver at least £3bn of pre-tax profit in the five years to 30 April 2021, pushing the shares 2.8% down to £36.47. Among the peer group, Taylor Wimpey (TW.) fell 1.8% to 195.21p and Persimmon (PSN) was down 2.5% to £25.59.

The exception was retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone (MCS) which fared better thanks to a 4% jump in sales to £660m in the year to 31 August 2017, up from £636m last year. Its shares rose 1.5% to 162.8p.


Software company Micro Focus (MCRO) surged by nearly 6% to £23.28 thanks to strong results from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), which was subject to a $8.8m merger with the firm. HPE revealed sales for the nine months to 31 July was $2.1bn while operating profit stood at $804m.

Low-cost airline EasyJet (EZJ) kept the good news coming from the airline sector following positive stats from Wizz Air and Ryanair earlier this week. EasyJet reported a 9.4% rise in passengers carried in August and said the load factor increased to 96.3%, up from 94.9%.

The decision to slash charges for checking in luggage was bad news for investors in Ryanair (RYA) although good news for passengers. The company said the changes would cost over €50m per year, although management believes it could encourage more people to check in bags. The market was unconvinced as the stock dipped 1% to €18.


Shares in Petrofac (PFC) advanced 8.4% to 445.58p after winning a contract worth more than $700m from Sakhalin Energy Investment for its onshore processing facility on Sakhalin Island.

Software firm Sophos (SOPH) said its strong momentum in billings growth continued into the second quarter of the year, driving full year 2018 billings growth expectations to approximately 20%. Investors weren't bowled over as the shares fell 2.5% to 520.5p.

Sportswear retailer Sports Direct (SPD) confirmed trading in its new generation flagship stores exceeded expectations as the company aims to become the 'Selfridges' of sport. Its stock advanced 1.5% to 389.8p.

Acacia Mining (ACA) was on damage control as it tried to offset some of the impact from an export ban by the Tanzanian government on unprocessed ore. The miner said under measures to mitigate cash outflows it bought put options covering 210,000 ounces of gold at a strike price of $1,300 per ounce. Shares in Acacia were flat at 188.3p.


Restaurant operator Fulham Shore (FUL) was the latest casual dining group to issue a profit warning. The Franco Manco and Real Greek owner blamed a slowdown of trade during July and August, as well as higher costs to support operations. Investors headed for the exits as the stock plummeted 15.9% to 14.5p.

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