Pick of the early market news

The FTSE 100 yesterday lost almost 40 points, sinking too 5,737 points. The biggest plunger was Randgold Resources, losing -03.38%. The biggest riser was Aberdeen Asset Management, climbing + 3.47%.

The French Cac 40 saw a -1.64% tumble while the Dow Jones was also down, -0.11%, to 13,213 points. Overnight, the Reserve Bank of Australia slashed interest rates by 0.5%.
Let's start with Lloyds. Lloyds is still paying the price of the insurance mis-selling scandal which has decimated first quarter profits. Pre-tax profits came in at £288 for the first three months of the year - a substantial improvement though on its £3.47bn loss a year ago.

But Lloyds has had to shell out £375m on mis-sold PPI compensation. Lloyds is claiming "continued momentum in deposit growth" with customer relationship deposits increasing 2% in the quarter and 6% since end Q1 2011.

Bear in mind that profits at Lloyds are predicted to tumble 15% or so in the next year following planned downgrades by Moody's credit rating agency.

Next, BP. Although crude prices have increased, BP's profits are less than hoped: net profits slumped to $4.93bn compared with $5.61bn in the same quarter a year ago. Operating cash flow for the quarter was $3.4 billion, compared to $2.4 billion in the first quarter of 2011; a dividend of 8c per share for the first quarter of 2012 will be paid.

"The net cash outflow relating to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was $1.2 billion for the quarter compared to $2.8 billion a year earlier," said the company. This quarter's cash flow was affected by an increase of around $3 billion in net working capital as inventory levels and prices increased, BP added.

"We have made a good start against our strategic priorities for 2012," said chief exec Bob Dudley. "During the quarter we gained access to significant new deepwater and US shale exploration acreage, our ongoing divestment programme has reached $23 billion, and we have five deepwater rigs at work in the Gulf of Mexico."

Lastly, a rise in dividends - up 13% to 31.7p a share - for Imperial Tobacco investors as profits expand. The cigarette maker saw total adjusted operating profits of £1.524bn for the half-year to the end of March; that's 3% higher compared to a year ago. Although tobacco net revenue climbed 3.3%, stick equivalent volumes are down 4.1%.

Key strategic brand net revenue, says the maker of Lambert & Butler, is up 12% and stick equivalent volumes are up 5%; there's continued growth in luxury Cuban cigars and snus adds the company.

"Our focus on realising the potential of our total tobacco portfolio through our sales growth drivers has delivered a good first half performance," says chief exec Alison Cooper, "with strong second quarter results reflecting the sales momentum we're generating."

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