Pick of the early market news

City of London aerial shotAn almost 2% leap for the FTSE-100 yesterday. The blue chip index finished Monday at 5,399, 95.80 points up, thanks in part to a Wall Street bounce and more positive news from France and Germany's debt plan pledge. This morniong we commence with positive news from catalogue player N Brown Group.

Despite the challenging economic backdrop, N Brown Group claims total revenues bumped up 4% to £363.7m in the half year to the end of August with operating profits hitting £47m. Like-for-like growth expanded by 1.5% while the gross margin rate has climbed to 54.9%, a 1.2% improvement.

"We are encouraged by the performance of our menswear catalogues," says chief exec Alan White, "particularly Jacamo which recorded 66% sales growth, by the positive response that we have had in the US with Simply Be, and excited by the launch of our two new stores."

"We expect the uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook to continue to impact consumer sentiment, which is demonstrated by the extremely volatile shopping patterns we have experienced in the first few weeks of the second half."

While Michael Page reported positive results yesterday, Robert Walters plc updated today - and there's clear shared ground. Like Page, Walters is seeing strong Asian growth - up 18% in this year's third quarter compared to a year go, supplying £25.4m in gross profits. Significantly, UK profits slipped half a million to £12.1 million compared to last year.

"During the third quarter, we have increased Group net fee income and achieved strong growth across our international businesses," said chief exec Robert Walters. "Net fee income growth, whilst positive, has slowed as markets have become more challenging."

"Group headcount increased by 4% to 2,001, mainly in Asia and Continental Europe and year to date we have opened five offices, two in new countries."

Finally, university commercial research player Fusion IP has released full year results ending up to 31 July; earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation climbed 650% to £3m with revenues and portfolio returns increasing 35% to £5.9m.

"The value of our portfolio," says chief exec David Baynes, "has continued to grow and we anticipate we will be able to demonstrate this further in the current financial year, and remain focused on achieving our first cash realisation."
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