Pick of the early market news

Stock markets ended last week positively on Friday with the FTSE 100 rising +0.49% to 5,777 points. The biggest riser was Man Group, whose shares leapt +14.13% on Friday. The German Dax rose +0.91% and the French Cac 40 was up +1.14%.

Overnight, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed +1.1%; Japanese and Chinese markets closed for a holiday.
We start with stronger numbers from Aberdeen Asset Management. Revenues for the six months up to 31 March climbed to £413.1 million (+7%) from £385.9m while underlying profit before tax £162.2 million (+14%). Underlying earnings per share climb to 10.43p (+17%). Aberdeen have hiked their dividend per share to 4.4p, a +16% rise.

The asset management company claims they are "encouraged" by the positive start to the financial year but markets remain susceptible to periodic bouts of volatility, they acknowledge.

"Global economic conditions," says Aberdeen exec Martin Gilbert, "remain uncertain and any recovery is still tentative. Nevertheless, we remain confident that our long term investment philosophy and process, couple with the scale and diversity of our business and financial strength, leave us well placed to meet the expectations of our investors."

Next, investment management solutions player Fidessa. Despite the tough trading conditions Fidessa saw growth during the first quarter. Progress has been made across most regions it claims, particularly with larger customers "as they seek strategic partners with scale, vision and resource to support their broadening needs."

Within Fidessa's smaller customers, pressure has continued; Fidessa expects that more of these will consolidate or leave the market during the year. But it expects there will still be "good opportunities for growth, particularly through extending its derivatives presence and leveraging its infrastructure."

Lastly, platinum miner Aquarius Platinum. Average PGM dollar prices increased in the quarter - platinum and palladium rose 5% and 8% respectively - while rhodium fell 8%. Attributable production for the third quarter was cut by 7% quarter-on-quarter to 97,802 4E ounces said the company.

Seasonal absenteeism, continuing Section 54 safety stoppages and labour "go-slows" have not helped. "These unnecessary operational and regulatory headwinds," said CEO Stuart Murray, "are occurring against a backdrop of a pricing environment that remains relentlessly tough, with unabated on-mine cost inflation, little fundamental demand recovery and continuing volatility in financial markets."

However there was some encouraging aspects to the quarter. "A new and promising commercial arrangement has been reached with our primary mining contractor and both tailings operations are now profitable."

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