Materials giant Hanson has blamed bad weather and difficult market conditions for a likely drop in its profit.
The firm predicted that pre-tax profit would fall from last year's £314.3m. It said the main factors behind the drop were rising energy costs, lower levels of construction activity in the South-east after the recent heavy rains and floods, and a drop in demand in Australia following the Olympics.

The warning, released in place of the firm's usual December update to investors, caused shares in the firm to fall 37p to 334p.

This was just above the fall to 332p, the year's lowest price for the firm, that was prompted after rising energy costs scared the City into selling shares in several materials firms in September.

The firm claimed the drop in profit would not be large. It said the outlook for next year was positive and more emphasis would be put on cutting costs.

Hanson added that the US market was expected to remain sound and recent government moves to improve UK transport infrastructure would help its distribution network.