UK stocks regain strength despite trade war and ex-dividend headwinds
Source - SMW
UK stocks reversed earlier losses to trade slightly ahead around lunchtime on Thursday.
Investors had initially been spooked by ongoing trade war uncertainty, the US declaring a national emergency to protect the country's computer networks from "foreign adversaries", and the negative impact of companies going ex-dividend. Stocks trading without the rights to their dividend included HSBC and Tesco.
At 11.45am, the FTSE 100 was 0.2% higher at 7,311.
Thomas Cook dropped 18% to 18.84p after guiding for lower earnings in the second half of the year due to "continued competitive pressure" from consumer uncertainty.
This came after it reported an increased loss in underlying earnings amid a "challenging" first half, adding it was currently assessing multiple bids received for its airline business.
Animal genetics group Genus struck a deal with Beijing Capital Agribusiness to research the Chinese pig market and breed pigs resistant to disease. Its shares jumped 15.1% to £29.10.
National Grid reported an 18% drop in its annual operating profit, largely due to major storm costs in the US. The FTSE 100 member said it expected asset growth of around 7% in the near term.
Its shares fell 2.4% to 822.62p as investors reacted to the results and the Labour Party outlined how it would take the business into public ownership should it win the next general election.
Lloyds Banking nudged 0.3% higher to 61.18p after saying it would move to pay dividends quarterly from next year versus half-yearly at the moment.
UK fashion brand Burberry lost 4.6% to £18.32 despite announcing a share buyback and reporting a rise in pre-tax profit as its transformation programme started to take shape.
Anglo American rose 3% to £19.70 as it said subsidiary group De Beers had approved plans to construct a new custom-built diamond recovery vessel in Namibia.
3i Group advanced 1% to £10.65 as it delivered an increase in annual returns that beat its medium-term expectations underpinned by growth in its private equity portfolio.
MID AND SMALL CAPS
Cyber security expert Sophos was in investors' good books. It climbed 13.4% to 385.7p after reporting an increase in both profit and revenue, primarily driven by increased subscription revenue, despite experiencing a "challenging" year.
Retirement products provider Just Group dropped 6.7% to 60.55p after it reported a sharp fall in first-quarter new business sales as a "temporary reduction" in defined benefit-related activity saw retirement income sales slump.
Premier Oil climbed 8.5% to 98.06p after increasing full-year production guidance to 75,000-80,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day as "very high" group operating efficiency and a late contribution from now-sold Pakistan assets led to higher-than-expected production.
Residential landlord Grainger added 1.9% to 263.2p after it reported a rise in pre-tax profit as it increased rents and completed new housing developments.