Updates from Barclays, ABF and AGA Rangemaster

While European shares slipped yesterday the FTSE 100 clung on to positive territory, rising 8.16 to 5,692 points. The biggest riser - by a huge margin - was GKN, surging +13.08%.

Overnight, Asian shares have declined with the Nikkei down -1.1% and the Hang Seng slipping -0.5%. Weak US services information and central bank easing continues to trouble.
We commence with Barclays and a rating outlook snip. Both Moody's and Standard and Poor's have cut their outlook on the troubled bank from stable to negative following the bank rate-rigging revelations.

Additionally Moody's claims that Barclays may have a tougher job than many expect replacing Bob Diamond. Diamond's departure - not to mention chairman Marcus Agius and chief operating officer Jerry del Missier - could even lead to the break of Barclays' investment arm, it has been suggested.

Next, a trading update from AGA Rangemaster. Rangemaster saw UK cooker volumes a little lower while exports to the continent continue to grow it claims. Sink sales volumes - linked to housing completions - were up. Fired Earth saw sales up over 6%. AGA cast iron cooker growth was up 4%.

"Encouraging progress," said the company, "in key parts of the Group was offset by the tough market conditions which impacted, in particular, our Irish operations and our Grange home furnishings business. A strong May followed by a quiet June reflected the patchy nature of the consumer markets."

Discussions about the funding needs of the Group Pension Scheme on an actuarial basis continue with the Trustee of the Scheme and its advisers. The Scheme was fully funded on an accounting basis at 31st December 2011, claims AGA.

Finally, ABF says it has bought Westmill Foods of Elephant Atta and smaller related ethnic flour brands from Premier Foods plc. Elephant Atta was established in 1962 and is the leading ethnic flour brand in the United Kingdom.

Premier Foods will continue to mill and package the flour with the brands being managed independently from Westmill Foods until regulatory approval is obtained. The cash consideration for the deal is £34 million.

"Elephant Atta," said George Weston, Chief Executive of Associated British Foods, "is the UK's leading ethnic flour brand and will complement Westmill's other leading ethnic brands including Tolly Boy rice, Rajah spices, Lucky Boat noodles and Patak's pastes and sauces."

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