Pick of the early market news
Biggest gainers on London's big board were Vedanta (up 7%) and Admiral Group (3.17% up) while Evraz and Tullow Oil fell sharply (-4.56% and -3.62%). Overnight, Asian markets have swung up.
Let's unwrap Rexam's final results first. The global consumer packaging company has seen underlying profits accelerate 15% to £450m. The company claims strong free cash flow of £277m with net debt reduced to £1.3bn, plus efficiency savings of £35m for the year.
Rexam, whose share price has climbed steadily since October, has boosted its total dividend by 20% to 14.4p. It remains cautious about the global economy and says there are certain cost challenges in 2012 with the impact of a key Healthcare product coming off patent.
"The volume environment for Beverage Cans remains robust," says CEO Graham Chipchase, "although we do not anticipate any turnaround in the performance of Plastic Packaging in the near term. Overall, we expect 2012 to be another year of progress as we continue to focus on cash, costs and return on capital employed."
Another profits jump, this time for Barratt Developments. Half-yearly numbers claim revenues for the half year to 31 December 2011 increased 8.6% to £952.8m (2010: £877.6m). Average selling price increased 3.1% to £181,200 (2010: £175,800), with private average selling price increasing 4.2% to £199,900 (2010: £191,900).
Barratt says profit from operations was £61.1m (2010: £43.5m), a 40.5% increase, with operating margin increasing 6.4% (2010: 5.0%).
"We have delivered a further substantial increase in profits and recently acquired high margin land is now driving further recovery," said chief exec Mark Clare. "We have again brought debt and land creditors in below expected levels. We have seen a strong start to 2012 and over the first seven weeks private reservations are running 21.8% ahead of this time last year."
Lastly, recruiter Hays. Half-year figures shows international business drove group net fee growth of 11% and operating profit growth of 14%; pre-tax profits rose 24% to £60.3m. Temporary net fees, which represent 56% of the Group, grew 14% while permanent net fees grew 8%.
However the UK market remained "challenging" with net fees down 6%. Private sector net fees were down 1% with public sector down 18% but "sequentially stable" since April 2011.
"Our diversification has again delivered great benefits with the International business growing net fees by 27%, and 14 countries growing by more than 20%," said CEO Alistair Cox. "Furthermore, with the broadest set of specialisms in our industry, we benefited from our exposure to a number of high-growth industries and skill-sets, including IT, Engineering and the Resource-based industries."