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Reports UK

UK stock market morning note (March 19, 2014)

March 19, 2014, Wednesday, 09:57 GMT | 05:57 EST | 14:27 IST | 16:57 SGT
Contributed by SVS Securities

The FTSE 100 is called to open flat to slightly lower this morning as investors look ahead to the US Federal Reserve meeting statement due out at 6.00pm UK time and subsequent press conference. Before the Fed event, today's economic diary will see the release of the Bank of England MPC meeting minutes, the latest UK unemployment figures and the Chancellor delivering his Budget Statement at lunchtime. Commodity prices are flat to lower and on the foreign exchanges, the pound is up slightly against both the dollar and the euro but within narrow trading ranges. It is a quieter day for major corporate news.

Company Announcements

Smiths Group

Interim Results see headline underlying PBT down 3% at GBP215m on revenue 1% lower at GBP1.44bn. The dividend is raised 2% to 12.75p, reflecting good cash generation. It noted that it anticipates improved underlying trading in H2 driven by the John Crane order book, some recovery in Smiths Interconnect and and further growth in Flex-Tek. However, Smiths Detection will continue to be affected by government budget pressures with Smiths Medical expected to face ongoing tough trading. It added that at current rates, foreign exchange headwinds will increase in H2, with a 4%-5% impact on full year earnings.

Partnership Assurance

Annual Results see operating profit up 17% at GBP131m with 'robust' new business margins in what it describes as a disrupted market. There is a maiden dividend of 3p, in line with its stated policy at the time of its IPO. It added that its expects total sales in Q1 to be lower than Q4 2013 but is confident of the medium and long term drivers of growth, although there remains uncertainty over the timing of the return to growth.