Updates from CRH, Grainger and RPS Group

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The FTSE 100 took a 61-point hit on Friday, ending 0.90% down at 6,749.4. BA owner IAG plunged more than 3.4% to 544p following its new Qatar Airways 10% stake while Sainsbury's and Morrisons were also knocked heavily, down 3.1% and 2.7% respectively (to 255.4p and 179.9p). BT Group was pushed down 2.6% to 417p. Oil and miners fared rather better with Randgold Resources up 4.9%.

The Dow Jones though was much more bearish, losing 252 points to 17,164.9. A 1.4% plunge thanks to thanks to a combination of domestic economic news and more worries about Greek debt.

First this morning, FTSE 100 Irish building materials player CRH confirms a €6.5bn deal to snap up cement company assets from Lafarge and Holcim. The deal is being supported by a combination of cash and debt it says.

CRH claims the acquisition strengthens its presence in markets across North America, Western, Central and Eastern Europe plus new platforms for growth in emerging markets. CRH recently sold its 115-year Ibstock Brick business for £414m cash.

"We reiterate," says CRH, "our expectation for second-half EBITDA to be somewhat ahead of last year (H2 2013: €1.08bn), resulting in expected full year EBITDA growth of 10 per cent in 2014 (2013: €1.475bn)."

Next, international consultancy RPS Groupsays unaudited management numbers for the full year indicate the Group's performance will be at the top end of market expectations.

Despite the steep fall in the oil price since June 2014, its Energy business, which represents 40% of Group fee income, grew its profits significantly in the second half compared with the first half it says.

"This was without the benefit of acquisitions," says RPS, "and reflects the resilience and long term nature of this business resulting from its broad range of clients and services, as well as its geographical diversity."

We finish with property management operator Grainger. It says it has exchanged contracts for the acquisition of a regional tenanted residential property portfolio for around £58m from Sarunas Properties Limited.

The portfolio comprises 614 residential properties, predominantly tenanted and subject to Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST's), located in Cambridgeshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Merseyside and Nottinghamshire.

"Today's acquisition," says Grainger boss Andrew Cunningham, "and our wider investment activity over the last month support our strategy of increasing investment into the regions where we are seeing attractive investment opportunities."

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