Market Report: Life is anything but Sweett


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The Independent Online

For Sweett Group life is anything but. Britain’s oldest surveyor tumbled 6.5p to 27.5p yesterday after warning that results for the year would be “materially below expectations”, which WH Ireland took to mean a cut from £4.3m to £2.9m.

Sweett blamed the slump on “challenges in certain overseas operations”. You can say that again. Last year it was hit by accusations of bribery at its Middle East operation and the Serious Fraud Office is investigating. Yesterday it said conditions in the area remain “challenging”, while a slowdown in Australia isn’t helping. It added that the investigation is “nearing completion”, while it continues to co-operate with the SFO.

After better than expected figures from Marks & Spencer, up 26.3p at 470.4p, and Morrisons, up 10.1p at 172.5p, investors returned to supermarkets with gusto. Tesco added 5.75p to 181.5p, while Sainsbury’s jumped 14.9p to 262.2p.

Randgold Resources topped the Footsie after a strong set of third-quarter numbers that point to a record year for the precious metals miner. Randgold added 309p to 4,074p.

RSA Insurance dropped 24p to 460.1p after revealing that premiums declined in the third quarter, squeezed by tough market conditions.

The FTSE 100 nudged up 12.01 points to 6,551.15, buoyed by signs that the European Central Bank is committed to propping up the eurozone.

On the mid-cap index Playtech, the gaming software specialist, tumbled 59p to 635.5p amid fears of a crackdown on online gambling in Malaysia. 

Spire Healthcare rocketed 15.3p to 299.3p on the mid-cap index after it announced a partnership deal with the private health insurer Bupa. Spire, which floated at 210p in July, also revealed that trading was in line with a full-year revenue forecast of  between £825m and £840m.

The cyber specialist Corero Network Security collapsed 7p to 12.5p on AIM after warning that a faster than expected shift away from its core product meant it would make a loss of $7m (£4.4m) for the year. The company said it is confident that its new SmartWall product will replace sales and said it has been a year of “transition”.