The FTSE 100 clawed back a modest 22.1 points on Wednesday, returning it to 6,950.4 by the day's end. CRH and Morrisons supermarkets took the day's biggest trading gains, up 3.4% and 3.2% respectively (to 1853p and 178.10p). Morrisons shares were helped along by better-than-expected sales data. Investors also got behind TUI AG, up 2.3% and Direct Line Group, up 2.1%. Not such good news for British Land down 2.7% to 829p or BA owner IAG, which skidded 2% to 543.50p.
Stateside, there was a 64.3-point rise for the Dow Jones, helped by more optimism on a deal for Greece. It ended Wednesday at 18,076.2 though sentiment for utilities and energy companies came under pressure with Intel down more than 1.6%.
We start with new preliminary numbers from Johnson Matthey. Sales climb 8% and underlying profits before tax are 7% ahead at constant rates; profits before tax climb 22% to £495.8m; earnings per share up 26% to 211.2p.
For 2015/16, a strong performance in Emission Control Technologies and good progress in Fine Chemicals is likely to be offset by a weaker year for Precious Metal Products.
"We have divested," claims the company, "our Gold and Silver Refining business and are in advanced negotiations on the sale of Research Chemicals...we expect the group's performance in 2015/16 to be slightly ahead of 2014/15."
Next, FTSE 250 player Pets at Home reports total revenue growth of 9.6% to £729.1m; merchandise revenues grew 8.3% with food revenues up 9.8% and Accessories revenues up 6.6%. Underlying EBITDA comes in at £121.3m, up 9.6%.
Like-for-like revenue growth rises 4.2%, driven by Advanced Nutrition, Health & Hygiene and VIP Club; there's merchandise like-for-like revenue growth of 3.7%. The total dividend for for the year is 5.4 pence per share.
"Management and the Board are confident in the Group's prospects for the year," says the company. "Looking ahead, we believe we will continue to grow our sales, stores, vet and grooming services ahead of the growth in the UK pet market."
Lastly, Sports Direct International says Matt Pearson has been appointed as Acting Chief Financial Officer and joins the Sports Direct board with effect from 4 June 2015.
Pearson joined Sports Direct International as a Group Financial Accountant from EY in June 2007, and was subsequently appointed Group Financial Controller.
"Matt is already leading our Group Finance Team," says Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell, "and is now perfectly placed to take on the additional responsibilities of this role on an interim basis."
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