LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) is finally picking up a bit today after a flat start to the week, gaining 0.56% to reach 6,466 by 8:40 a.m. EDT. The banks have led the way as hopes rise of further economic easing by central banks ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's next policy decision later today. The European Central bank will also meet tomorrow amid expectations of a further interest rate cut.
Sadly, not all our companies are enjoying similar rises. Here are three that look set to lag the index today.
Home Retail Group has seen its share price drop 3.7% to 150 pence this morning after the owner of the U.K.'s Argos and Homebase chains reported a fall in full-year profit. For the year to March 2, sales were pretty much flat at 5.5 billion pounds, but underlying pre-tax profit fell 10% to 91 million pounds, with earnings per share down 11% to 7.7 pence.
Although the transformation of Argos is going well, with a rise in like-for-like sales for the first time in five years boosting underlying operating profit by 6.5% to 100 million pounds, underlying operating profit at Homebase slumped 50% to just 11 million pounds.
A first-quarter update from Weir Group led to a modest share-price fall. Performance during the quarter suffered from "a lower opening orderbook, particularly in the Oil & Gas division," but the firm still says trading is in line with expectations and has not changed its full-year guidance.
Orders were down 14% from the same period last year, as expected, but were up 14% on the fourth quarter of 2012. And recent acquisitions -- especially Mathena, whose integration is apparently going well -- provided a welcome boost.
Balfour Beatty shares have dropped a further 0.8% to 214 pence this morning after the construction and support group announced the disposal of its Private Finance Initiative assets, as the firm is "reducing the business's reliance on PFI in the U.K. and military housing in the US."
The sale of Balfour Beatty's interests in several PFI schools projects, as well as its interest in the Tameside Hospital PFI, raised 58.5 million pounds, which exceeded the firm's valuation of the investments and made a profit of 21.9 million pounds.
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