Surging commodity prices continued to drive UK stock higher in early afternoon trading, with miners dominating the top of the FTSE 100 leader board. Three-month futures contracts for aluminium, copper, nickel, palladium and more rose sharply on Thursday with Anglo American (AAL), Glencore (GLEN), Antofagasta (ANTO) and Rio Tinto (RIO) all catching the uplift.

Elsewhere, Darktrace (DARK) and Qinietiq (QQ.) made sharp moves in opposite directions, up 7% to 968p, and slumping more than 12% to 287.5p respectively.

At 12.30pm, the benchmark FTSE 100 was trading 0.7% higher at 7,192.47, while mid-caps were also in demand, the FTSE 250 adding 0.5% at 22,743.24.

Brent Crude pushed more than 1% higher to trade at $84.14 per barrel, natural gas showed no sign of stopping as it advanced another 5% to 248p per therm, while the pound clawed back some ground against the dollar, edging 0.37% to 1.3719.

MOVING ON THE MARKET

Defence and security company QinetiQ’s 12%-plus fall came after announcing a potential £15 million hit from supply chain problems. That grim, if unsurprising news came alongside an in-line first half update showing improved orders.

Homewares retailer Dunelm (DNLM) inched 0.7% higher to £13.09 as the curtains, cushions and kitchenware seller reported continued strong growth and market share gains for the first quarter ended 25 September.

Total sales grew 8.3% year-on-year to £388.8 million against a very strong comparator, driven by a positive customer response to Dunelm’s summer sale, improved product availability and some popular new furniture ranges.

Dunelm insisted it feels ‘well placed relatively’ to cope with current supply chain disruption and inflationary pressures from freight and driver shortages.

And in the absence of any further Covid-related lockdowns or other industry shortages, Dunelm expects to deliver full year pre-tax profit in line with analysts’ recently upgraded consensus expectation of £179 million.

Domino’s Pizza (DOM) lost earlier modest gains to drift 1% lower to 381.8p after serving up a rise in third quarter sales driven by a recovery in collection orders and ongoing strength in online orders.

Looking ahead, the pizza chain assured investors that ‘trading remains in-line with our expectations, we are well placed as we gear up for our peak trading period and believe our strategy is working to create sustainable value for all our stakeholders’.

Also on the rise was Rank (RNK), the bingo halls and casinos operator, after reporting an increase in first quarter revenue as customers began returning to gaming venues following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. But investors were left largely non-plussed, the stock barely 0.6% up at 160.4p.

BUS OPERATOR ON RIGHT ROAD

Bus operator National Express (NEX) nudged 1.5% higher to 232.6p on news of a rise in third quarter revenue, with the transport group insisting it is on track to achieve annual underlying pre-tax profit in line with expectations.

‘I am pleased to say that our ongoing focus on cost management along with our long-established procurement and fuel hedging programmes mean that we have seen no material impact from input cost inflation’, assured CEO Ignacio Garat.

Recruiter Hays (HAS) was marked nearly 3% higher at 167p after reporting a rise in first quarter net fee income, driven by an increase in demand for permanent placements.

CEO Alistair Cox said: ‘We have made a strong start to our financial year, with sequential fee growth in all major markets. 12 countries produced record net fees, including the USA and China, and our global Hays Technology business also hit record fees.’

SMALL CAP WRAP

Elsewhere, electronics engineer DiscoverIE (DSCV) sparked up 5.1% to £11.04 on news of a better-than-expected performance in the first half to September, with strong order growth momentum continuing and revenue remaining well ahead of both the prior year and pre-covid levels.

Bathroom and kitchen products suppler Norcros (NXR) firmed 5.5% to 306p on a positive first half trading update and a full year profit upgrade.

Outperformance of the market experienced in the second half of the prior year has continued into the first half, reflecting increased activity in the UK and South African repair, maintenance and improvement markets and the strength of its customer proposition.

As a result, Norcros now expects underlying operating profit for the year to March 2022 to be ‘significantly ahead’ of management’s previous expectations.

Marshall Motor (MMH:AIM) sped 7.4% ahead to 260p after the car retailer announced the £64.5 million strategic acquisition of multi-franchise dealership Motorline.

Funded from Marshall’s existing cash resources, CEO Daksh Gupta said the deal is expected to ‘generate attractive financial returns’ for his charge and brings ‘immediate scale’ with the Toyota/Lexus and Hyundai brands, which the company has been targeting for some time.

Find out how to deal online from £1.50 in a SIPP, ISA or Dealing account.

Issue Date: 14 Oct 2021