Updates from Next, Xiaomi and Provexis

Royal Mail shares bounce back on City Link trouble while BT shares slide

savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100A lift in Royal Mail shares - 4.5% up thanks to the demise of competitor City Link - helped the FTSE 100 put on weight yesterday, finishing 23 points higher at 6,633. Miners across the Board were in demand with BHP Billiton up 2.7%. However BT Group sustained the biggest loss, giving away 2.7% to 405p.

Across the water the Dow Jones was clipped 15 points back to 18,038.2 not helped by more concerns about the Greek economy, with the dollar gaining on the euro.

The big news this morning is a trading update from high street retailer Next. Next claims "a good first half," achieving sales and profits ahead of original expectations: total sales were 10.3% ahead of last year and profit before tax rose by 19.3%.

Sales come in at £1,850m while profit before tax soars to £324m. Earnings per share rises to 173.3p, up 22%. Next anticipates pre-tax profits for the year to be in the region of £775m.

"The economic outlook," says Next, "for the UK consumer looks relatively benign. Low inflation, an end to real wage decline, healthy credit markets and strong employment all paint a somewhat more positive picture than recent years."

Next, new numbers from life sciences player Provexis - licensor of Fruitflow food ingredient - for the six months up to 30 September 2014. Underlying operating loss has been reduced to £180k in line with management expectations (2013: Underlying operating loss of £410k).

"The number of international brands containing Fruitflow continues to steadily increase, with over 30 regional consumer healthcare brands now having been launched by DSM customers," says Provexis.

Provexis recently signed a colloboration agreement with the University of Oslo to look more closely at Fruitflow and blood pressure regulation.

Lastly, a new round of financing has re-lit the valuation of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, which is now worth four times its value of a year ago (the company didn't even exist in 2010).

Xiaomi has just raised more than £700m boosting its total valuation to $45bn. A new flagship smartphone is due for release in the next month.

Xiaomi is valued significantly higher than rivals such as Lenovo. At the end of September Xiaomi had 15% of the Chinese domestic smartphone market.

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