Wed City brief: Balfour, Bellway, Moss Bros, Bowleven, UU

London shares closed down 28.71 points, or 0.41%, at 6,990.97, having hit a record intra-day high of 7,065.08.

Traders said it was taking a breather after the recent strong surge. The index has gained 6.5% so far this year and is up about 14% since the middle of December, helped by a strong recovery in the economy.

Housebuilders Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey were among the early risers. Johnston Press, owner of The Scotsman titles, was trading down a hefty 6.64% or 11.25p to 158.25p after reporting another loss.

Figures today include:

BALFOUR BEATTY: reported a full-year loss of £59m and said it would not pay a dividend as it faced “major short term challenges”. The company last year issued a string of profit warnings abd board departures.

BELLWAY: reported growth in market share, with half-year profits up 53.1% to £158.9m on revenue up 18.7% to £831.2m. The company has declared a 56.3% rise in the interim dividend to 25p per share (2014: 16.p) and the board also expects an increase in the final dividend to maintain a full year dividend cover of around three times.

MOSS BROS:  Total like-for-like sales including VAT reflected a 5.5% increase on the prior year. Profit before taxation was up 9% to £4.8m (2013: £4.4m).  Chairman Debbie Hewitt said: “The retail environment was more competitive during the year, with heavy discounting around new events like Black Friday. We remained focused on our core offer and traded our way through what was for us and most retailers a significant shift in consumer buying patterns.” The board is proposing a final dividend of 3.55p per share to be paid on 26 June.  The total dividend for the year is 5.25p per share, an increase of 5%.

BOWLEVEN: Kevin Hart, chief executive of the Africa-focused oil explorer said in an interim statement: “Following completion of the Etinde farm-out we are well positioned, with a strong financial foundation, to take the business forward. The group is looking forward to participating in four potentially significant exploration and appraisal wells over the next 12 to 18 months.”

UNITED UTILITIES: said it expects a modest increase in underlying operating profit for 2014/15, compared with last year, and plans to invest more than £850m in regulatory capital investment during the period.


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