Updates from Tesco and United Utilities

The FTSE 100 gave away almost 60 points on Tuesday, slipping to 6,636. There were sustained rises though for heating and plumbing player Wolseley, up +3.24% to 3,349p and oilfield service company Petrofac, up 2.23% to 1239p.

The Dow Jones barely moved, ending one fraction of a point higher at 16,072.

First up, food service operator Compass Group. Revenues rise 4.3% to £17.6bn while operating profit gets a 7.8% bump to £1,265m. Earnings per share climbs 12.5% to 47.7p. Organic revenue growth rises by 4.3%.

Compass claims new business growth of 8.8%, driven by a good performance in North America and emerging markets. Its retention rate remains at 94%, despite the cumulative effect of certain uneconomic contracts and business closures in Europe.

"Compass," says chief exec Richard Cousins, "has maintained good momentum during the year. High levels of new contract wins in North America and Fast Growing & Emerging have driven good organic revenue growth of over 4%."

Next, half-year numbers from United Utilities. For the six months up to 30 September, revenue climbed to £853.3m from £822.9m while underlying operating profit rises to £343.2m from £314.7m, partly the result of claimed tighter cost control.

United says that following a revised tax treatment agreement with HMRC, around £75m net cash will be used for a £20m special customer discount, offsetting real price increases for 2014/15 and £17m of further support for those struggling to pay.

"We are also committing," says chief exec Steve Mogford, "to further support for customers struggling to pay. This is in addition to the previously announced reinvestment of £240 million of outperformance for the benefit of our customers and the environment."

We end with news from Tesco that it has faintly wound up its ill-fated US Fresh & Easy business, selling it onto Los Angeles company Yucaipa. Yucaipa has a track record in previous grocery store recovery stories, selling them on as they become profitable.

Though Tesco has a formidable track record itself in wringing value out of its goods and services, critics described Tesco's US attempt as mis-timed - diving in during a recession - and lacking focus. Freshness was criticised and some shoppers considered the stores too small.

Local competition also responded quickly to their new British rival. Tesco announced the news in a short statement: "Tesco had agreed the sale of the substantive part of Fresh & Easy's operating business to YFE Holdings Inc., an affiliate of Yucaipa Companies LLC ("Yucaipa"), Tesco is today confirming the completion of the transaction."

Breaking news: Royal Mail sees half-year pre-tax profits climb to £1.58bn for the six months to 29 September thanks in part to a one-off gain from pension changes.