Updates from BP, JD Wetherspoon and Centrica
More Ukranian-Russian instability plus China pessimism hit markets on Thursday. The FTSE 100 sank 1.01%, finishing at 6,553.7. The German Dax meanwhile took a 1.86% fall. Individually, Morrisons shares were the biggest shocker yesterday, down almost 12% to 205.20p, rocked by a new strategy change and grim profits numbers.
The Dow Jones echoed the European shares stress, sinking 1.41% to 16,108 points. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
We begin with news of a respite for BP. The US Government has rescinded its ban on the oil giant, allowing it to bid for US government contracts. The ban was a direct result of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster following an explosion on the company's Deepwater Horizon rig, killing eleven workers.
BP said it was pleased to have reached the new truce, "which we believe to be fair and reasonable," said John Mingé, Chairman and President of BP America. BP has agreed to a revised set of safety and operations, ethics and compliance plus corporate governance requirements.
The decision ends the legal row between BP and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Last year BP sued the EPA last year for not lifting the ban, but the EPA's decision was upheld by the US Department of Justice.
Next, solid numbers for pubs operator JD Wetherspoon. Revenues for the 26 weeks to 26 January sees revenues climb almost 10% to £683.2m. Like-for-like sales climb 5.2% while operating profit are up 7% to £55.7m. Earnings per share climb 3.5% to 20.7p.
In the six weeks to 9 March 2014, like-for-like sales increased 6.7%, with total sales increasing 11.6%, JD Wetherspoon says.
"We expect taxation," says Wetherspoon, "and input costs to rise and the comparisons against a strong second half result in the last financial year will be more difficult. Despite these factors, the company continues to expect to achieve a reasonable outcome in the current financial year."
Lastly, as part of Centrica's share repurchase program, it purchased one million plc ordinary shares at an average price of 335.1493 pence per share. The highest price and the lowest price paid for these shares were 337.20 pence and 332.60 pence.
The purchased shares will be held as treasury shares. Currently Centrica plc holds 129,510,935 ordinary shares in treasury and has 5,070,418,757 ordinary shares in issue (excluding treasury shares), the company claimed.
In a fairly bleak day for shares yesterday, Centrica was the FTSE 100's biggest riser, up 2.10% to 334.80p.