The FTSE 100 had a slightly better day yesterday, drifting just -3.69 points lower to 5,446. The biggest riser was Shire, climbing +3.16% while RBS was the biggest loser, down -3.84%.
Overnight Asian stocks rebounded on the previous day's anxiety. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed +1.1% while Japan's Nikkei rose +0.3%.
We commence with half-year numbers from Standard Chartered. Income growth for the six months to June 30th is anticipated to be in the high single-digits but the resurgent US dollar could drag Group income down by as much as 2% the company says.
However the bank's market diversity will help compensate the bank claims: double digit income growth is expected from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Africa and the Americas, UK and Europe region; Hong Kong is at or around double digit, SC says.
"The Group has continued to manage expenses tightly and, as a result, income growth is expected to be ahead of cost growth in the first half," it said in a statement. "As a result of the expected income growth, tight control of expenses and the good credit performance of our portfolios, we anticipate high single digit growth in profit before tax for the Group over the first half of 2011."
"There has also been a slight improvement in the Group operating margin as a result of the impact of the acquisitions completed in 2011 and the sale of the UK Vending business," the company said in a statement. Bunzl's robust cash flow and balance sheet should continue to enable it to take advantage of further consolidation opportunities, it also said.
Finally, prelim numbers from commercial van operator Northgate. Underlying profit before tax increases 10.9% to £59.7m (2011 - £53.8m) while profit before tax rises to £46.0m (2011 - £26.5m). Underlying basic earnings per share increase 8.6% to 31.5p (2011 - 29.0p).
Group performance remains in line with Board expectations, confident that the company is "well placed to deliver significant value to shareholders".
"The Group retains its strong, market leading position in both the UK and Spain," said chairman Bob Mackenzie. "With the majority of the restructuring completed the Group will continue its strong disciplines of asset management, cash generation and cost control whilst at the same time maximising profitable growth where the appropriate return exists."