Pick of the early market news


Another bout of groundless optimism? Hope springs eternal. The FTSE 100 soared 148 points yesterday, finishing the day at 5,312, almost 150 points higher. Across the Atlantic, the Dow gained 309 points sweeping it to 11,540. However the biggest gains came in Europe, with France's CAC 40 soaring 5.5% while the German DAX finished 4.6% higher. Can these gains really be sustained?

Today, let's commence with a bout of shopping. B2B and home shopping retailer Findel says interim results for the 26 weeks up to 30 September saw revenues slip slight to £254.6m compared to £255.8m last year. In the eight weeks to 25 November the company claims a 2.9% sales lift.

"In what has been a particularly challenging economic environment," says Findel boss Roger Siddle, "we are encouraged by the development of the Group. We are particularly pleased that Express Gifts, our largest business, is on track for a very strong Christmas with current trading 10.9% ahead of last year."

Siddle though needs to feel encouraged given the absolute hammering Findel's share price has taken in the last year, from 15.75p to 3.00p (though over a five year period the performance is considerably worse).

Next, First Property Group. Profits before tax for the six months up to 30 September improved to £2.54m compared to £1.42m last year. Assets under management have expanded to £374m from £315m with the company marginally increasing its dividend, from 0.32p to 0.33p.

Boss Ben Habib says their steps to establish two new funds, one focused on the UK, the other on Poland, together with restructuring the cost base of the Blue Tower office block in Warsaw, which FP owns directly, has resulted in an excellent first half.

"The unfolding sovereign debt crisis in Europe naturally causes us concern but the Polish economy, where 71% of our assets under management are located, has continued to perform well, as have our properties there. Poland remains a bright spot on the European landscape but we are closely monitoring the crisis in Europe and any consequences it may have for the Group."

We finish with a trading update from financial derivatives operator IG Group Holdings. Following a "strong" first quarter, IG continues "to experience high levels of client activity during the second quarter of its financial year."

"The Group currently expects that it will achieve revenues in excess of £193.0m for the first half, compared to £156.7m in the corresponding period for the prior year. This would represent growth of at least 23%. Costs have been in line with management's expectations."

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