Market Report: A good day for industry as Johnson Matthey posts 2 per cent rise


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It was a good day for industry as the catalytic converter specialist Johnson Matthey climbed 189p to 3,341p as it posted a 2 per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profit even though revenue fell by 25 per cent. Meanwhile, the engineer Babcock International surged 66p to 1,184p thanks to a 24 per cent jump in first-half revenues, with much of that down to the recent £1.6bn acquisition of the helicopter company Avincis. It has also been named preferred bidder for the soon-to-be privatised Ministry of Defence agency that maintains the Army’s tanks.

But the joy did not extend to Serco, with Babcock’s success underlining the recent struggles of the outsourcer, which announced on Monday that its chairman is stepping down. Serco tumbled 13.5p to 179p.

The FTSE 100 lost 17.70 points to 6,678.90. Miners hampered performance, as weak manufacturing data from China sparked a sell-off.

The drug sales and marketing specialist UDG Healthcare improved 21.1p to 348p as it trumpeted a 9 per cent rise in full-year operating profit and proposed a 7 per cent rise in the final dividend.

Mothercare’s pledge not to go on another pre-Christmas discount drive – a tactic that resulted last year in a profit warning _ received a thumbs-up from investors, with the retailer leaping 10p to 183.25p.

There’s never a dull day with Quindell. The embattled insurance outsourcer put on 10.75p to reach 53.75p yesterday after denying reports that it is looking to hawk its 25 per cent stake in Nationwide Accident Repair Services, down 4p at 70.5p, although the rebuttal featured the phrase “not actively seeking to sell”. It came as Roble SL, the mysterious fund holding the biggest short position on the company, was named as US hedge fund Tiger Global.

The cloud computing group Outsourcery jumped 4.75p to 15p on AIM after announcing a Microsoft reselling contract. The company, headed by Dragons’ Den star Piers Linney, is in the early stages of a attempting a turnaround after delays with a partner forced it to stump up £4.5m to plug a balance sheet hole.