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Asia recovers; Ryanair hikes guidance; Barratt; Goals

RyanairWed: The FTSE100 rose for a third session, following Asian markets which roared back overnight. Tokyo’s Nikkei index closed 7.71% higher at 18,771 points, its biggest one-day gain in seven years.

The rebound came a day after the index fell 2.4%, wiping off all its gains for the year. After yesterday’s recovery, the benchmark index is now 7.6% higher than it was at the beginning of 2015.

The Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng were 2.32% and 3.55% higher respectively.

The FTSE 100 index closed up 1.4% at 6,229.01, still around 12.6% off April’s record high

UK corporate news

Sports Direct majority shareholder Mike Ashley and chairman Keith Hellawell survived a revolt over pay and corporate governance issues at its annual meeting.

City institutions including Royal London Asset Management have criticised the company for lowering the performance targets in its bonus scheme.

The board faced a grilling from shareholders at the meeting while representatives from ShareAction, the pressure group, claimed the company’s workers are “risking their health” for fear of being dismissed.

Barratt Developments unveiled record results. The UK’s third-largest housebuilder by market value reported a 44.8% jump in pre-tax profits to £565.5m in the year to 30 June.

Completion were up 11% to 16,447 – the highest for seven years and average private selling prices rose 9% to £262,500, driven by a combination of the type of house sold and house price inflation.

Chief executive David Thomas said: “The strong operational and financial performance reinforces the progress we have made over the past few years.

“The new financial year has started very well. We have a strong forward sales position and are making very good progress towards our 2017 targets of at least a 20pc gross margin and at least a 25pc return on capital employed.”

Ryanair lifted its annual profit guidance by 25% following a strong summer performance. The Irish airline said it now expects net profit of between €1.18 billion (£850 million) and €1.23bn in the year to next March.

It attributes part of the growth to its two-year drive to improve customer service, but the lower oil price and the strength of sterling were other factors.

Goals Soccer Centres: Sales have suffered in the first nine weeks as the poor weather took its toll. Players preferred to escape the rain and take advantage of the strong pound to holiday abroad. The company has upped its September marketing campaign aimed at bringing these players back and encouraging new teams into its centres.

The East Kilbride company expects this campaign, together with new retention tactics will drive an increase in sales over the seasonally important next few months. However, the board is adopting a more cautious view on the full year outcome and is therefore revising its profit before tax guidance for the current financial year to a range of £9.3m-£9.8m.

Keith Rogers, managing director said: “Trading in the UK has been challenging. The US opportunity remains compelling as evidenced by the ongoing strength in trading from our centre in Los Angeles, which is now the most successful in our estate. We have accelerated progress in terms of the site pipeline and put in place the infrastructure and resource to exploit our first mover advantage.”

Underlying profit for the half year rose marginally from £4.4m to £4.5m on flat sales of £17.1m. The interim dividend of 0.675p is maintained.

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