Pick of the early market news

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The London FTSE 100 ended Monday -19.58 points down at 5,915.55. Its biggest plunger by some margin was Essar Energy (down -14.60%) following disappointing profits; publisher Pearson also sank -3.76% to 1204p and HSBC slipped -3.72% to 553.50p. European stock markets were also broadly slightly down while overnight in Asia stocks swung back up on a slight rise in oil prices.

First off, Irish air carrier Aer Lingus. Pre-tax profits have come in at €84.4m in 2011, a huge leap from €27.2m a year ago. Revenues for Aer Lingus climbed 6% to €1.3bn while average income per passenger swelled by 4.8% to €112.27.

The Irish airline boss Christoph Mueller said the increased profits had been created despite a "difficult backdrop of non-controllable fuel price inflation, increased airport charges and challenging demand conditions in our primary markets".

Keeping in the air, aero-engineering operator Senior has announced record pre-tax profits of £72.7m with revenues of £640.7m thanks to, it appears, increasing exposure to emerging markets. Senior shareholders have also seen seen a 22% jump in the final dividend.

"Despite the ongoing defence budgetary cuts in North America and Europe, the Aerospace Division's sales to the military and defence market (29% of divisional sales) increased by 10% in 2011 over the prior year," said the company.

Adjusted profit before tax increased 19% to £78.0m (2010 – £65.3m). The final dividend, if approved, will be paid on 31 May 2012 to shareholders at close of business on 4 May 2012, says Senior.

Finally, AB Foods has revealed that sales growth at discount chain Primark lost their grip slightly in recent months. Primark's like-for-like sales growth for the first half of 2012 is expected to 2% rather than industry expectations of 3%.

Though the company had done decently during Christmas, like many retailers Primark has been unsettled by the warmer weather, plus rising cotton prices. ABF shares closed down almost 20p at 1200p yesterday.

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