Updates from Dixons and National Express

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The FTSE 100 enjoyed a pre-Xmas shake yesterday, lifting +1.28% to 6,522, a jump of 82 points. Miner Aggreko soared +8.51% to 1645p with CRH also lifting strongly, up +4.79% to 1487p. RSA Insurance Group dipped -2.59% to 90.10p, the heaviest faller by a big margin.

Across the pond the Dow Jones ended Monday 129 points up at 15,884.
We start with strong half-year numbers from Dixons. UK & Ireland delivered a strong performance, with underlying operating profits up five-fold to £31.4 million. There's improved profitability with Underlying Group EBIT up 52% to £48.1 million, so Dixons claims.

Northern Europe continues to perform well in competitive markets, delivering an underlying operating profit of £45.5 million. Good cash generation is claimed, achieving net cash of £55.4 million compared to a net debt position of £21.9 million.

"The transactions," says chief exec Sebastian James, "that we have announced with PIXmania, Unieuro and Electroworld in Turkey represent a real achievement and will leave Dixons in a leadership position in all of our major markets."

Next, a pre-close statement from National Express. Overall trading across the Group has remained "positive" claims the travel operator and in line with the trends reported in the third quarter interim management statement.

Revenue has continued to grow strongly in UK Coach, with steady growth in UK Bus, Rail and North America. The intercity coach revenue trend in Spain continues to show improvement and cash generation is strong, National Express says.

"UK Coach," says chief exec Dean Finch, "in particular has seen strong revenue growth, driven by more passengers using our competitively priced services. We are focusing investment in those areas of the Group where it makes the biggest impact to our customers."

Finally, news that Babcock International Group has acquired Context Information Security (ContextIS) for £28 million plus deferred consideration of £4 million payable in 2016. Babcock says the acquisition completes immediately. ContextIS provides specialist technical consultancy services in the cyber security market.

In the financial year up to 31 May 2013 ContextIS generated revenue of c £10 million. Babcock says it has worked with ContextIS for some time and its specialist knowledge, intellect and experience should broaden its services

"The acquisition of ContextIS," says Babcock boss Peter Rogers, "and its combination with our existing expertise in systems engineering creates a strong platform that will enhance the range of services we offer our clients and enable us to expand into new markets."