Market Report: Foundry's fortune is going volcanic

Steelmaker and foundry mould maker Cookson lived up to its new name today when it spurted up more than 9 per cent.

Cookson renamed itself the volcanic sounding Vesuvius in December when it split from its chemicals business which was renamed Alent.

The Cookson name goes back to 1704 when Isaac Cookson founded the business, but yesterday news it had smashed forecasts and stemmed losses meant it took the top spot on the mid cap index.

The maker of ceramic moulds and linings for metal foundries said profit was 39 per cent higher than the second half of 2012 and the sell-off of weaker businesses, including its precious metals processing arm and its solar business, meant it is now in a much better shape. It raised £47m from the over the past year sales.

Investec's scribblers said it was a "demonstration of what good housekeeping can do" and said it "would be hard to fault Vesuvius's first half results."

Although the market it operates in is still extremely tough Investec said it will "upgrade... [its] full year estimates."

Vesuvius jetted 40p to 480p.

In second place on the mid-tier table was car dealership group Inchcape following news it will return £100m to shareholders over the next year.

The share buyback, which Panmure Gordon analyst Michael Allen said was "a positive surprise", came along with a strong set of first-half results. The group, which runs dealerships under franchise for the likes of Audi, BMW, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz, reported pre-tax profit of £147m, up more than 10 per cent on the previous period, and was boosted by its purchase of Australian car group Trivett and its Asia and emerging markets business and the desire for luxury cars.

Investec analysts rated it a buy and raised their target price to 610p. But Allen was even more enthusiastic and raised his target to 675p. Inchcape accelerated 58p to 645p.

The FTSE 250 on Thursday broke the 15,000 mark for the first time and was up another 70.76 points to 15,131.97.

The benchmark index ended its current growth spurt and lost 34.11 points to 6,647.87

David Madden, market analyst at spreadbetter IG, said: "The London market got off to a good start but despite a huge jump in UK construction PMI traders cashed in their chips ahead of the lunchtime update from the US. The lower-than-forecasted headline figure pushed stocks further into the red and the realisation that unemployment dropped triggered monetary stimulus tapering fears."

British Airways-owner IAG was a flyer, up 10.5p to 306.7p, after it posted a €245 million (£214 million) operating profit in three months to July.

Oil, gas and mining services group Weir was up after a buy note from Berenberg Bank analysts. They pointed out that after 18 months of falling demand the engineer's management "called the bottom in North American pressure pumping" market which should mean good news for the group. Berenberg also think there is good news to come from its mining services business too and they rated it a buy with a 2,545p price target. The shares pumped up 36p to 2,239p.

Back on the mid-tier index, hedge fund Man Group was in focus. It revealed another $1.3bn (£860m) of funds walked out the door in the last quarter. But punters piled in as the City breathed a sigh of relief that the figure wasn't even worse.

Despite the bad news — this is the eighth consecutive quarter clients withdrew money — shares in Man soared more than 9 per cent. The business reported outflows from funds for the second quarter at $1.3bn, compared with $3.7bn in the first quarter. The rate of funds leaving the hedge fund has slowed and there were even signs that its restructuring plan is coming together under chief executive Manny Roman. Pre-tax profit came in at £122m during first half compared with £163m loss last year.

Man rose 7.95p to 91.5p.

Ocado founder Jason Gissing cashed in £3.3m of the online grocery group's shares – his first sale since the company floated at 180p a share three years ago. Mr Gissing, commercial director and like his two co-founders ex-Goldman Sachs, sold just over 1 million shares at 310.6p each. He and his family trusts still have just short of 18 million shares which equate to 2.9 per cent of the company. Ocado edged up 0.8p to 289.4p.

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