London shares rally as the week draws to a close with a plethora of blue-chip financials leading the way, followed by pharmas, property and utility stocks. This after mixed sessions on Wall Street and in Asia overnight, and as Europe bolted ahead, too. The FTSE 100 index rises almost 1%, or close to 60 points, to 6,130, although mid and small caps put up less impressive gains in early trade on Friday.
On the corporate news front, the market surprisingly cheers the shock departure of founder and CEO Mark Lancaster from translation and digital analytics business SDL (SDL). Lancaster returned to head the business in 2012 in a bid to rescue the failing company, but progress has ground to a halt this year as the brakes were slammed on investment. Even so, the stock's 8% jump today to 349.875p comes as a surprising kick in the teeth from investors.
Electronics distributor Electrocomponents (ECM) is the FTSE 350’s biggest faller, losing 4.8% to 171p as poor performance in its North American business, as well as currency and product mix pressures its profit margin.
Credit bureau Experian (EXPN) loses 4.6% to £10.26 after its credit checking data was breached by a cyber attack. US mobile carrier T-Mobile, one of Experian’s customers, says hackers took names, addresses and birth dates of customers who applied for credit checks over the last two years.
Buy-to-let lender Paragon (PAG) soars 8.5% to 431p on news it has acquired a leasing unit from Rothschild & Co for £117 million. The deal is expected to bring its Paragon Bank subsidiary, which was not expected to break even until 2016, into immediate profitability.
Churchill Mining (CHL:AIM) slumps 20% to 18.5p on news it had conditionally raised £0.75 million gross via a placing of 4.2m shares at 18p each, in other words a value diluting 22.5% discount to yesterday's 23.25p close.
Universe (UNG:AIM) rallies 11% to 10.38p as it signs a major contract with Conviviality Retail CVR:AIM). Under this contract, revenues over the next three years are expected to amount to approximately £4.3 million.
Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza owner InterContinental Hotels (IHG) gains 2.5% to £23.62, reversing some of this week's losses which saw it hit an 11-month low of £22.45. Its US peer Host Hotels & Resorts said on Monday US business demand had weakened and international growth was disappointing.
Veterinary services provider CVS (CVSG:AIM) bounds another 4p higher to 695.5p as Berenberg upgrades its price target from 760p to 800p. Yesterday, CVS followed up Friday's strong finals by announcing the £7.7 million acquisition of Alnorthumbria, a North East of England practice boosting its large animal and equine business.