UK stocks continued their positive progress on Monday with technology and energy stocks lending support to the main index.
US markets pushed to new highs on Friday after a strong October payrolls report and news that drugmaker Pfizer had developed a new Covid-19 pill.
Brent crude future firmed 0.8% to $83.60 per barrel after OPEC rejected US calls for it to step up production, while sterling was flat against the dollar at $1.3490 and gold crept 0.2% higher to $1,817 per ounce.
At 8.30am the FTSE 100 was up 10 points to 7,314 points led by a rebound in cyber security firm Darktrace (DARK) and further gains for energy stocks as crude prices moved higher.
Shares in mining group BHP (BHP) added 0.6% to £19.08 after the firm announced it had agreed to sell its 80% stake in BHP Mitsui Coal, a joint venture metallurgical coal project in Australia, to Singapore-owned Stanmore Resources for up to $1.35 billion.
The asset manager is believed to have £2 billion of surplus regulatory capital after selling off non-core assets and a deal would head of II’s preparations to float on the market independently. Abrdn shares gained 1% to 256p.
Online gambling software provider Playtech (PTEC) confirmed media chat it had received a preliminary approach from Chinese private equity firm Gopher Investments just days after agreeing a 680p per share offer from Australia’s Aristocrat Leisure. Shares climbed another 2.8% to 728p, extending their recent rally.
Shares in investor favourite Scottish Mortgage (SMT) eased 1% to £15.28 despite the company posting a 16% increase in first half net asset value against a 9% gain for the FTSE All-World Index and raised its interim dividend by 5% to 1.52p per share.
Defence contractor BAE Systems (BA.) released a positive trading update, confirming its full year sales and EBIT growth forecasts thanks to a solid backlog of orders and a growing pipeline of opportunities, sending its shares up 1.2% to 574p.
Shares in building materials supplier Kingspan (KGP) fell 2.7% to €102 after the firm flagged ‘extraordinary’ cost inflation in its insulated panels business and a slowdown in orders since August. The company also said activity at its Light & Air business was ‘more subdued than in other categories’.
SMALL- AND MID-CAP NEWS
The company said it was working ‘round the clock’ to bring the websites back online while its 39 UK stores remained open and continued to trade.
The company said it had seen no supply chain disruption to its operations and was rolling out new franchise stores and kiosks as planned.
Shares in funeral director Dignity (DTY) drifted 3% lower to 697p after the firm posted a rise of just 1% in turnover for the three months to September and a 10% drop in operating profits as it continued to see a fall in market share in both funerals and crematoria.
Logistics provider DX Group (DX.) gained 4% to 33p as it reported a 266% jump in full year underlying trading profit thanks to a 16% rise in revenues driven by its freight business. The firm also said it would reinstate its dividend as soon as possible.
Shares in bus and rail operator Go-Ahead Group (GOG) slid 3% to 791p after it reported a slight slowdown in the recovery of passenger volumes on its regional bus network, although its other bus and rail businesses continued to perform in line with expectations.
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