A 0.91% climb for the FTSE 100 on Wednesday, up almost 59 points to 6,490.7. Aviva and BAESystems took the most optimism, up 3.5% and 3.4% (to 497p.10p and 460.90p). Shell also climbed strongly, up 2.9% to 1812.50p. However housebuilders all fell hard on the news that George Osborne was snipping buy-to-let tax relief in the Budget; Barratt was down 5.7%, TaylorWimpey fell 5% and Persimmon 4.7%.
Stateside, the Dow Jones was down more than 260 points or 1.47%, not helped by technical issues on the New York Stock Exchange though Greek stress and Chinese gyrations also made themselves felt.
Let's start with an interim from Barratt, reeling from Osborne's surprise hit. Total completions, including joint ventures, for the year increased 10.8% to 16,447 (2014: 14,838) while private average selling prices were up 8% to £262k (2014: £241.6k), driven by further changes in mix and underlying house price inflation.
Barratt says profit before tax is now expected to increase by 45% to around £565m (2014: £390.6m). The forward sales position remains "very strong" with total forward sales (including joint ventures) as at 30 June 2015 up 29.6% it claims.
Next, Primark owner Associated British Foods. For the 40 weeks to 20 June group revenues were 2% up on last year at constant currency, and level at actual exchange rates. Sales at Primark in the 40 weeks of the year to date were 13% ahead at constant currency.
That was driven by an increase in selling space of 8% says ABF and by high sales densities in stores opened in the last year says ABF. As a result of the weakened euro against sterling, total sales were 9% ahead of the same period last year at actual exchange rates.
"As previously indicated, the impact of currency on results for the next financial year will be more significant," says ABF, "than this year and arises from transactional currency exposures, primarily in British Sugar and Primark."
We end with AVEVAGroupand a trading summary. Since the announcement of the full year numbers on 19 May AVEVA says there's no noticeable change in trends reported in its end markets or regions.
Revenue and profit in Q1 have continued to be negatively hit by currency volatility due to a further strengthening of sterling; profits are to be more second half weighted due to the full benefit of recent cost efficiency measures.
"The Group maintains a strong balance sheet and continued to see solid cash generation in the first quarter, resulting in net cash of £119 million at 30 June 2015." The stock recently saw a consensus Hold rating from a tranche of brokerages covering it.
Breaking news: Housebuilder Balfour Beatty issues a fresh profits warning. Read it here
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