WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Footsie inches ahead but Carpetright floored

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Carpetright shares suffered as Britain’s biggest floor coverings retailer trimmed its annual profit forecast for the third time in less than six months.

The firm admitted it had yet to benefit from the UK’s housing market recovery putting it on course for full-year underlying profits of between £3.5 million and £5.5m, against £9.7m a year earlier.

Cantor Fitzgerald retail analyst Freddie George slashed his forecast to £4.5m from £8.5m in the wake of the update. Shares closed off 5.1 per cent at 556.5p, though they had been down more than 8 per cent at one stage.

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index nudged about half a point higher to close at 6,605.3.

Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, pointed to some support from bullish markets in mainland Europe, with the Cac-40 and the Dax up by about 1 per cent, and a solid opening across the Atlantic.

“Both Europe and the US have decided to look upon their drinks as being half full, as blue has bathed the equity indices on a day when the economic data has not necessarily warranted it,” he said.

Standard Life leapt 7 per cent to 400p, leading the Footsie risers’ board, after the company said its investment arm was acquiring Ignis Asset Management.

Among the Scottish stocks, Duns-based potato supplier Produce Investments said its half-year profits came in at £5.4m, from a loss of £1.2m a year earlier, with the interim dividend up 25 per cent at 2.275p. Its potential acquisition of Jersey Royal is ongoing. Shares were flat at 235p.

New business wins and acquisitions helped Iomart, the Glasgow-based web hosting and cloud computing specialist, to flag stronger-than-expected full-year profits. Its shares jumped 7.4p, or 3 per cent, to 251.4p.