FTSE 100 stocks rally through the 7,000 mark for only the second time in the history of the index, approaching all-time highs hit in early 2015.
The blue chip benchmark trades 1.1% higher at 7,060 at the open with only 10 stocks in negative territory following solid gains across Asia and Australaisa overnight.
Sterling weakness is again a feature following commentary from UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond around negotiations to leave the EU and relaxed deficit reduction targets.
Sterling is down around one cent against the dollar over the last 24 hours and now buys $1.277
The investment bank upped its rating on the stock from ‘underperform’ to ‘buy’ and raised its price target from £30.00 to £43.00.
Pharmaceuticals giant Astrazeneca (AZN) is among the few early losers, down 0.7% at £50.07, after it revealed Brilinta, a peripheral artery disease drug, failed to prove it delivered better results than existing treatment clopidogrel.
Separately, Astrazeneca says it has reached agreement with US-based Aralex Pharmaceuticals to licence out Toprol-XL, a cardiovascular disease treatment. Aralex will pay Astrazeneca $175 million up-front and sales related payments of up to $48 million.
Like-for-like sales are up 2.8% for the 13 weeks to 1 October and CEO Roger Whiteside says Greggs is on track to meet full year forecasts, flags progress with shop refurbishments and is also upbeat about the autumn/winter menu, ‘which includes new lower-calorie Balanced Choice bakes and soups along with a range of new snacks with gluten-free options. Chipotle Pulled Beef, Fiery Pulled Chicken and Onion Bhaji burritos are exciting new additions to our successful hot sandwich range.’
CEO David Knight reports ‘significant growth across all areas of the group’ for the year to July, with orders up a bumper 14.8%. There's also a positive current trading statement, 4.5% growth in same-store sales delivered over the opening 9 weeks of the new financial year despite tough prior year comparatives.