Pick of the early market news

More Eurozone anxiety yesterday. The FTSE 100 ended Wednesday -24.50 points down (or -0.44%) at 5,530 points. That's its lowest point this year. The biggest loser were Sage Group, down -5.46%.

Much of the anxiety is Greek-related; bond yields in Spain have again crossed the critical 6% threshold. Overnight in Asia, the Hang Seng was down -1% and the Nikkei fell -0.2%.
First off this morning, BT. A rise in broadband demand has seen BT grow earnings - which means a dividend hike, helped along by deep spending cuts. There is a 4% increase in fourth-quarter operating profits, better then expected. However overall full year falling sales don't look so good.

Underlying revenue is down 1.9% for the year while net debt rises by £266m. There is a proposed final dividend of 5.7p, up 14%, giving a full year dividend of 8.3p, up 12%.

"In what remains a challenging environment we have delivered another year of growth in profits and free cash flow," said chief exec Ian Livingston. "Our financial strength has allowed us to invest in the business, make a £2bn payment into the pension fund, reward employees and deliver double digit growth in shareholder returns."

Next, Old Mutual. Funds under management in core operations climb 6% to £284.2 billion. Sales continued to be strong in emerging markets said the company. However the prolonged turmoil in the eurozone has continued to undermine retail investor confidence in Europe.

"With growth in funds under management," said boss Julian Roberts, "and further strategic progress, overall this has been another good quarter for Old Mutual. We have seen positive net client cash flows throughout the Group including at USAM where investment performance is improving."

Lastly, an interim from auto solutions player Inchcape. Group's revenue of £1.561bn is slightly better than expectations the company claims. Total revenue is in line with the same period last year at actual currency (0.9% below in constant currency) and like-for-like revenue up by 1.4% in actual currency (0.5% ahead of last year in constant currency).

The UK business delivered a robust first quarter performance: like-for-like revenues lifting 4.9%, ahead of expectations. There was strong performance across its premium and luxury brands in the UK and in its Russia and emerging markets markets. "Our used car margins," said the company, "remained solid and our aftersales business continued to perform well."

It adds: "The Group will leverage its diverse revenue streams as our strong Aftersales business, which represents 50% of gross profit, and our used car business are expected to perform well."

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