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News & Tips: Dairy Crest, Ophir Energy, Smith & Nephew, Carclo, TUI Travel & more

European stock markets were broadly static on early trading as investors kept their powder dry ahead of the European Central Bank’s monthly monetary policy decision due out later today. The majority of Asian indices had recorded slight falls prior to the commencement of trading in London. Japan’s Nikkei and the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index pulled back marginally, although they’ve still made substantial gains through the early part of this year. Read the views of The Trader Dominic Picarda on prospects for the trans-Atlantic currencies, the DAX and the FTSE 100.

IC TIP UPDATES:

Shares in Ophir Energy (OPHR) moved back after it revealed that it had started flow testing at Block 1 of the Mzia field in Tanzania, following successful results in its appraisal programme. The Mzia-2 appraisal well encountered 62m of net gas pay in Cretaceous reservoirs and established pressure communication between the Mzia-2 and Mzia-1 gas columns.

Dairy Crest Group (DCG) revealed that trading remains broadly in line with expectations, with mid-single digit volume and value sales growth for the year.

Smith & Nephew (SN.) reported fourth-quarter earnings declined on reduced European sales - and it also forecast lower profitability for 2013. Adjusted trading profit, which excludes reorganisation and acquisition costs, fell to $272m from $279m a year earlier.

Bellway (BWY) reported that the average house price and the number of homes sold were both up on last year. The Newcastle-based housebuilder sold 2,597 homes, an increase of 5.8 per cent, at an average of £187,000, 2.3 per cent higher than the previous year.

Vodafone (VOD) warned that market conditions in Europe had deteriorated as it reported a 2.6 per cent fall in revenues for the last three months of 2012, with market conditions in Spain and Italy particularly difficult.

KEY STORIES:

Ocado (OCDO) has narrowed its full-year loss to £0.6m – its third in a row since floating in 2010. Ocado said it achieved gross sales growth of 11.4 per cent last year, accelerating to 14.2 per cent in the six weeks to 6 January 2013.

SuperGroup (SGP) – owner of the Superdry fashion chain – said it expects to meet analyst profit expectations after reporting accelerated revenue growth over Christmas.

Carclo (CAR) said that trading conditions have improved. The plastic components manufacturer said it was benefiting from a better second half of its financial year despite weakening demand in its technical plastics division.

Strong bookings in the UK Britain have boosted performance at TUI Travel (TT.) – the parent company of Thomson and First Choice. The tour operator revealed that sales for this summer were up 4 per cent compared to 2012.

OTHER COMPANY NEWS:

Ireland's government rushed through emergency legislation early today to liquidate the failed Anglo Irish Bank as Dublin tries to forge agreement with the European Central Bank to ease the Emerald Isle's debt burden.

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