Pick of the early market news

Pessimism seeped back yesterday following more eurozone unemployment anxiety. The FTSE 100 closed 54 points down at 5,758 points. The biggest slumper was Barclays, down -5.55%. However Next shares climbed +2.59% following its first quarter numbers.

Overnight, Chinese banks helped drag Asian shares down with the Hang Seng Index slipping 0.5%.
First off this morning, strong numbers from oil and gas player BG Group. First quarter pre-tax profits have come in at $2.45bn compared with $1.45bn last year. Earnings per share soar to 35.7 cents, up from 17.4 cents this time last year.

BG's exploration and production business delivered a 5% increase in volumes; total operating profit for its LNG business was up 42% to $812 million, boosted by continuing strong demand from Asian markets.

"BG Group," said chief exec Sir Frank Chapman, "has delivered significantly stronger financial results in the first quarter and with new production coming onstream, further progress on our major projects, and continued exploration success, we remain firmly on track to achieve our long-term objectives."

Next, Smith & Nephew. Revenues climbed 3% to $1,079 million while trading profit is 5% up (underlying) at $252 million. Trading profit margin pushed 23.3% higher, up 50bps. Net debt is substantially down, from $351 million a year ago to $28 million.

Additionally, robust revenues, profit and trading profit margin performances were recorded from Advanced Surgical Devices and Advanced Wound Management.

"Smith & Nephew has had a good first quarter," said boss Olivier Bohuon. "We grew revenue, increased profit and improved our trading profit margin. We saw the first results of our actions to make Smith & Nephew more fit and effective."

Lastly, an update from Legal & General. Operational cash generation rises to £249m (Q1 2011: £245m) while LG Investment Management assets climbs to £383bn (Fy 2011: £371bn).

However, its Savings division has been affected by ebbing consumer confidence and disposable income. Sales were £434 million pounds for the first three months of 2012, compared with £433 million a year ago.

"The strength of Legal & General's diversified model has enabled us to deliver strong sales in Risk, increased net inflows to LGIM and another good performance on cash generation this quarter," said Group Chief Exec, Tim Breedon.

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