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Old Mutual says no decision on strategic review, Clarkson annual profit up

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Monday 07 Mar 2016

(ShareCast News) - London's FTSE 100 is seen starting 29 points lower than Friday's close at 6,170.
Stocks to watch

Old Mutual responded to weekend press speculation with anything but clarity on Monday, releasing a short statement to the market.

The FTSE 100 insurance and finance group was said by numerous Sunday newspapers to be planning a £9bn split into numerous standalone companies, which could lead to a takeover battle for some of its biggest operations.

On Monday, the company said all options for its future were being considered as part of the strategic review announced when chief executive Bruce Hemphill in November last year, but no decision had yet been made.

Results from GlaxoSmithKline's long-term safety study of Advair Diskus for the treatment of adults and adolescents with asthma have been published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Kate Knobil, chief medical officer of pharmaceuticals at GSK said: "We are pleased that this study, which demonstrates the safety profile of Advair, has now been presented in a well-respected, peer-reviewed journal and also presented at scientific congress. This will give physicians the opportunity to independently review the results of this study."

Shipping services group Clarkson reported on a year of solid growth on Monday, with revenue growing 26.9% to £301.8m in the 2015 calendar year.

Its preliminary results showed underlying profit before tax was up 49.4% to £50.5m, and profit before tax grew 26.2% to £31.8m. Underlying earnings per share were 121.9p, down from 134.2p in 2014.

Clarkson's board recommended a final dividend of 40p, taking the year's total dividend to 62p - up from 60p in 2014.

In the press

John Longworth resigned on Sunday night as director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce after being drawn into a political row over his support for the UK to leave the European Union. The surprise decision illustrates the increasingly febrile atmosphere around the impending referendum on EU membership on June 23. - Financial Times

The chief financial officer of EDF, the French utility, has resigned following an internal disagreement over whether to push ahead next month with the Hinkley Point reactor project in the UK. According to two people familiar with the situation, Thomas Piquemal quit amid concerns that plans to make the final investment decision so soon put the group's entire financial future in jeopardy. - Financial Times

The City's top regulator has said a new system designed to hold bank executives to account is "not about trying to get heads on sticks". The new regulatory regime, which came into force on Monday and holds top executives responsible for failures in banks, has been watered down since it was first proposed, though Tracey McDermott, the acting head of the Financial Conduct Authority, insisted it would still have a major impact. - Guardian

US close

Wall Street gained at the end of the week on news that employers added more positions than forecast in February, although wages unexpectedly declined on the month, while some leading strategists and well-known investors sounded a very cautious note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average notched up a gain of 62.87 points or 0.37% to finish at 17,006, while the S&P 500 advanced 0.33% to 1999.99 - paring its year-to-date loss to 2.2% - and the Nasdaq Composite tacked another 0.20% to end the day at 4,717.02.

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