A strong start to the week across Europe’s markets helped push the UK’s major stocks higher on Monday spurred on by Wall Street’s record close on Friday.

The benchmark FTSE 100 was nearly 0.6% higher at 9am, lifting the index to 7,277.85, while mid-caps were also firmer, the FTSE 250 up 0.4% to 23,204.05. With much of the economic action taking place towards the middle and back end of the week, with interest rate calls from both the US Fed and Bank of England plus US payroll data, trading volumes are expected to reasonably light.

The morning’s biggest talking point was Barclays (BARC), where the departure of the bank’s chief executive Jes Staley was announced following an investigation by the City watchdog over his links to Jeffrey Epstein. Staley has said he will contest the preliminary findings of the inquiry carried out by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

BT (BT.A), a favourite of rank-and-file private investors, led the blue-chip rally with a near 4% gain to 144.1p on reports that boss Philip Jansen is set to announce that the company’s £1 billion cost savings target will be met a year earlier than previously guided.

But investors are perhaps more intrigued by the possibility of a takeover of the UK telco by French billionaire Patrick Drahi, founder of broadband challenger Altice. Under City rules, Drahi cannot bid until December because he built a 12% earlier this year though he stated there were no takeover plans.

An upgrade to ‘outperform’ by France’s BNP Paribas lifted shares in Lloyds (LLOY) by 1.75% to 51.1p.

DOUBTS CAST OVER DARKTRACE VALUATION

On the downside, cyber security firm Darktrace (DARK) continues to feel the heat following a last week’s research note from Peel Hunt that poured water on its currently lofty valuation. The analyst highlighted that Darktrace has low customer review scores compared to its main peers among other criticisms, putting a 473p target price on the stock.

Darktrace shares fell 12% on Monday, totting up losses over recent days from 945.5p to today’s 704p.

Property regeneration company U&I (UAI) soared more than 70% in after agreeing to be taken over by commercial landlord Land Securities (LAND) in a £190 million deal.

U&I stormed 62p higher to 147.5p, while Land Securities Group nudged 0.7% higher to 691.8p.

Howden Joinery (HWDN) gained 0.6% to 925p after saying it expects annual profits to be at the top end of current analyst forecasts of between £298 million and £360 million as the surge in DIY demand continued into the second half.

 

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Issue Date: 01 Nov 2021