Updates from Centrica, Shell and AstraZeneca

Fuel bills set to tumble for British Gas customers, but concern remains on profit margins

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A 34-point drift for the Big Board on Wednesday, slipping to 6,773.4. Antofagasta and GKN both saw major share slips, down 4.56% (to 816p) and 4.02% (to 351p) respectively. Sainsbury's shares also suffered, down almost 3% to 313.8p after Morgan Stanley reined in their recommendation on the stock. Barclays shares, in contrast, surged 4.34% to 228.4p despite news that Barclays profits had been hit by 10%.

Over in the US, the Dow Jones lost more ground, down 31.7 points to 16,880.3 despite the Fed claiming the American economy was strengthening.

It's a bunch of FTSE 100 heavyweights today. We start with British Gas owner Centrica, currently in line for a bust-up with Ofgem on profits. British Gas profits for the residential supply side of its business are pegged back 26% to £265m for first half of the year, Centrica claims.

The good news for customers is that Centrica claims the average annual British Gas customer bill will fall by around £90 this year. The tumble in its first half earnings reflects mild UK weather and the Polar Vortex in North America says Centrica.

Full year earnings per share are expected to be in the range 21-22p, taking account of a £40 million charge with writing off its Round 3 wind investment and $110 million of costs from Polar Vortex.

Next, Shell. The petroleum giant says second quarter 2014 earnings on a cost of supplies basis was $5.1 billion compared with $2.4 billion for the same quarter a year ago. A second quarter 2014 dividend has been announced of $0.47 per ordinary share.

Shell says it benefited from higher liquids production volumes and prices, the impact of the strengthening Australian dollar on a deferred tax liability, plus higher contributions from manufacturing.

Performance was more robust than year-ago levels says Shell boss Ben van Beurden, "but I want to see stronger, more competitive results right across the company, particularly in Oil Products and North America resources plays".

Finally, AstraZeneca sees revenues in the second quarter climb 4% to $6,454 million. Half year revenue climbs 3%. Core earnings per share in the second quarter were $1.30, up 13%; half year core EPS dips 1% however.

Core earnings are expected to dip to low double digits at constant exchange rates, an update on previous guidance of a percentage decrease in the teens says AstraZeneca.

"We have one of the most exciting pipelines in the industry with 14 assets in late stage development," says boss Pascal Soriot. "Over recent weeks, we have presented compelling data that demonstrate our potential to significantly advance the way patients are treated."

Centrica
Shell
AstraZeneca

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