Updates from United Utilities and RBS
A 97-point dip for the FTSE 100 on Tuesday, driving it down to 6,676. Sainsbury's and Tesco took the brunt of the investor sell-off, down 5.38% and 4.19% respectively (to 263.80p and 194.50p). Schroders and Rolls-Royce shares were also off-loaded, down 3.90% and 3.74%. Miner Rio Tinto saw the biggest rise, up +1.6% to 3108p.
The Dow Jones also took some of the chill, down more than 116 points to 17,055.8, not helped by European economic activity sinking to a nine-month low.
First, a trading statement from United Utilities. Trading looks in line with group expectations for the six months to 30 September 2014; United says it remains confident of delivering its 2010-15 regulatory outperformance targets.
Underlying net finance expense for the first half of 2014/15 is anticipated to be slightly lower than the first half of last year reflecting the impact of lower RPI inflation.
As far as the conversation with Ofwat on pricing for the next five years, United says discussions "with particular focus on the wholesale total expenditure differences between UUW's business plan and Ofwat's draft determinations," continue.
Next, Imperial Tobacco has reacted quickly to Ed Milliband's plans for a new tobacco tax. "Targeting one individual industry that happens to be unpopular with an additional tax is totally unwarranted and unjust and just a bad idea," the company's corporate affairs director told the BBC.
Imperial says the move would encourage more black market activity. Tobacco companies pay billions a year in tax collectively via tobacco excise duty and VAT, though there is no tax on profits.
Despite falling sales in some area, tobacco profits have continued to broadly climb - helped by some price rises and tight cost control - and dividends remain attractive across the sector.
Finally, RBS has announced the pricing of IPO of Citizens Financial Group at a price per share of $21.50. Citizens has $130.3 billion in assets.
Trading of Citizens stock commences on the New York Stock Exchange today under ticker symbol 'CFG'.
"Selling Citizens," says RBS boss Ross McEwan, "will significantly improve our capital position and help us to create a strong and secure bank that can continue to fully support the needs of its customers."
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