Pick of the early market news
The biggest falls overall were from Europe: the French Cac 40 was down -3.58% and the German Dax down -3.40. The Dow Jones slipped -1.57% to 12,759.
We start with full-year numbers from Admiral Group. The car insurance operator saw full-year pre-tax profits come in at £299m - a 13% bump on 2010. Turnover, comprising total premiums and other revenues, climbed 38% to £2.19bn. Admiral is proposing a final dividend of 36.5p per share.
The company saw Confused.com's revenue growing by around 8% to £77.6 million (2010: £71.8 million) "though the competitive market," said the company, "required greater media investment and resulted in a fall in operating margin to 21% (24% in 2010)."
"We have now exceeded £2.1 billion turnover, within 19 years of a standing start, which is a fantastic achievement," said CEO Henry Engelhardt. "Profits are up 13%. We enter 2012 with confidence."
Next, aerospace and defence player Cobham. Underlying profit before tax for the full year rises to £328m, a 7% rise while basic profit before tax climbed to £234m from £189m. The company is recommending a full year dividend increase of 33% underpinned by robust earnings and cash generation.
"We have achieved," says Cobham exec chairman John Devaney, "modest organic growth in our core businesses and 13% underlying EPS growth at constant translation exchange rates, driven by efficiency savings from the Excellence in Delivery programme and good cost control. Conditions in our markets, including the positive trend in our export and commercial markets are expected to continue in 2012."
Finally, Jupiter Fund Management. Net revenues have picked up 8% to £248.5m, ahead of the £230.5m recorded in 2010. Profits before tax jumped to £70.3m (2010: £42.4m), an increase of 66% driven by increased operating earnings, the company said, "and by the absence of exceptional costs and a reduction in finance expenses."
While financial assets have rallied sharply since the end of the year, the economic outlook remains uncertain, says chief exec Edward Bonham Carter said. "Markets are likely to remain volatile and fund flows subdued in the near term as a result."
"However, the long term growth drivers for the savings market remain intact and so we remain focused on delivering strong fund performance for our clients and investing in our business to capitalise on these opportunities when sentiment improves."