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Today’s market overview

Equities continue to drift downwards as the continued shutdown of the US government continues to cause consternation. But The Trader Dominic Picarda is less concerned, and sees this as a necessary pull back before the rally resumes.

IC TIP UPDATES:

Rolls Royce (RR.) has announced support contracts with the US government worth $496m in total. Both contracts are for field and engineering support for T-56 engines with the $406m Defense Logistics Agency contract spread over six years and $90m the Navy contract over five years. Rolls also announced that Japan Airlines has placed an order for 36 A350 Airbus aircraft, which use Rolls’ Trent engines. We keep ourbuy recommendation.

Thomas Cook (TCG) has announced the sale of its Egyptian and Lebanese-based businesses for £6.5m as it continues to refocus its business. The company will still offer holidays in Egypt. Buy.

Petroceltic International (PCI) announces that the Algerian state oil company Sonatrach has exercised its right to buy an 18.75 per cent stake in the Isarene Production Sharing Contract. The terms include a $20m down payment, $140m of development carry and two $10m milestone payments dependent on performance of the prospect. This takes Sonatrach’s holding to 43.375 per cent, with Petroceltic holding 38.25 per cent and Enel 18.375 per cent. We keep our buy rating.

Quadrise Fuels (QFI) ended the year to June with £3.2m in the bank and no debt as it continues to advance its MSAR low cost heavy fuel oil alternative. The company has signed a deal with Maersk which will see its fuel trialled in the two main engine types for heavy ships in the coming months. We maintain our buy recommendation.

Petra Diamonds (PDL) says that despite some industrial action the company’s mines produced 816,375 carats during the three months to 30 September, which leaves it on track to produce its target of 3m carats for the year to June 2014. Buy.

New Britain Palm Oil (NBPO) has announced a new joint venture to develop a new hybrid variety of high yielding sustainable palm oil plants.Buy.

KEY STORIES:

Troubled pawn broker Albemarle & Bond (ABM) has brought forward the appointment of Chris Gillespie as chief executive and also confirmed the appointment of Colin Whipp as chief restructuring officer.

Pork products specialist Cranswick (CWK) has seen strong sales growth in the six months to September with underlying turnover up 13 per cent. But record high pork prices have affected margins and mean half year results, and probably full year performance too, will be ‘broadly similar’ to last year.

National Express (NEX) has been shortlisted for the tender to run the Berlin Ringbahn, which is currently operated by Deutsche Bahn.

Optical products specialist Gooch & Housego (GHH) has overcome some uncertainty in its end markets to produce profits in line with expectations. It also ended the year to September with an order book of £27.8m, up 12 per cent on last year.

OTHER COMPANY NEWS:

The Bluefield Solar Income Fund (BSIF) has agreed deals to buy five large scale solar power plants, which when completed will mean the fund has committed 75 per cent of the funds raised at its float earlier this year. The company is also in advanced negotiations on another £175m worth of acquisitions.

Adriatic Oil, an exploration company with interests in the North Sea and Adriatic, has announced its intention to seek an Aim admission.

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