Pick of the early market news

London Stock Exchange signRecord operating profits at the Co-op Bank lead us off this morning after a day in which the FTSE 100 rose for the third consecutive session. The news from Johnston Press is not quite so positive, although the newspaper group still made a £30m+ profit, and there's also a interim from Aegis.
The Co-op Bank reports operating profits rose 20% to £131m in the first half of the year. New current account openings were up 73% to 56,000, with customer deposits up 5%. The customer funding ratio is up to 113%. The bank has committed £1bn to renewable energy projects.

The bank was also named Europe's most sustainable bank for the second year running. Acting chief executive Barry Tootell said: "This unwavering commitment to sustainability ensured the organisation emerged from the financial crisis stronger and has been the bedrock for further strong performance during the first half of 2011."

Johnston Press reports a 7.5% fall in revenue to £191.8m in its interim results this morning. Pre-tax profits fell 47.4% to £13.8m, with operating profits down 17.6% to £33.3m. Journalists at the paper's South Yorkshire titles are currently striking against what they see as cutbacks that will further damage competitiveness – an action that's receiving strong community support.

Johnston's CEO John Fry said: "The Group achieved an operating profit before non-recurring items of £33.3m despite the challenging UK economic environment of the first half of 2011... This was achieved by tight operational control, with further cost reductions of £8.3m resulting from new processes and an increased centralisation of back office functions."

Marketing communications giant Aegis reports a 34.8% rise in pre-tax profits to £35.6m for the first half of the year. Operating profit was up 26.5% to £77.4m as revenue grew 14.5% to £756.8m. The dividend per share rose 5.4% to £1.08p per share.

Shares on the FTSE 100 rose for a third day on the trot yesterday, closing up 76.43 points at 5205.85 after some volatile swings in the early trading session. Man Group was the biggest riser after HSBC issued an upgrade, while banks Lloyds and RBS also posted big gains.

Biggest faller was Admiral. The firm's record half-year profits failed to draw investors who were worried instead about a rise in the insurer's loss ratio and a rumoured ban on personal injury referral fees. And in the US, the Dow went back into negative territory, closing down 30 points at 11,145.

Links (open in new window)

Read Full Story