- A strong performance in the US and Asia failed to boost the FTSE 100.

Housebuilder Persimmon (PSN) benefitted from strong demand as pre-tax profit jumped 25% to £966m. It also revealed a bumper three-year package of dividends, prompting investors to mark the shares 9.6% higher to £27.26.

Persimmon was chased higher by Berkeley (BKG) and Taylor Wimpey (TW.), which both enjoyed gains of approximately 1.6% each.

The FTSE retreated 0.2% to 7,275 around midday.

Brent crude oil slipped 0.3% to $67.32 per barrel. Gold was stable at $1,331 per ounce and copper cheapened 0.6% to $3.18 per pound.


Sky (SKY) rallied 20.6% to £13.33 on a £22.1bn cash bid from US media colossus Comcast. The takeover offer is higher than the one tabled by 21st Century Fox.

The market overlooked downbeat 2018 margins at Virgin Money (VM.) and instead focused on a 28% rise in pre-tax profit. The stock gained 5.8% to 279.9p.

Elementis (ELM) reported higher sales and profitability, driven by growth in its Personal Care division and the acquisition of SummitReheis. Shares in the chemicals specialist were broadly unmoved at 280.8p.

Elsewhere, Croda (CRDA) delivered record profit thanks to a strong performance in all its sectors and major regions. The stock dipped 0.8% to £45.13 on a lack of a special dividend payout, but the dividend was hiked 9.5% to 81p.

A wider product range and new store openings helps boost sausage rolls seller Greggs (GRG), up 1.7% at £13.34. The bakery chain delivered a 2% increase in profit in line with expectations.

Meggitt (MGGT) warned of continued pressure in its energy-related business and the impact on margins from new accounting rules. Shares in the aerospace engineer dropped 4.7% to 444.7p.

Power generation firm Drax (DRX) reported core earnings beat expectation thanks to a strong contribution from the acquired Opus Energy business and higher profit from its biomass plants. The stock sparked 3% to 245.4p.

A £300m rights issue and a settlement with the Financial Conduct Authority at Provident Financial (PFG) caused the shares to catapult 69.7% to 997.8p.


Abaco Capital (ABA) announced the board anticipates returning capital to shareholders, pushing the shares 16.5% higher to 1.4p.

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