UK stocks rose in early trade on Tuesday as investors await to hear what Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen will say later today on stimulus and the dollar. The former Federal Reserve chairman’s Senate confirmation hearing will likely serve as the first forum for lawmakers to vet Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan.

There was also a slew of updates to capture the attention of investors with a mixture of financials and travel-related stocks pushing higher, led by aero-engines-maker Rolls-Royce (RR.), which rallied 4%to 108.6p.

At 9am, the benchmark FTSE 100 was close on 0.5% higher at 6,752.23. Mid-caps were also on the up with the FTSE 250 making 0.4% gains to 20,724.14.

EXPERIAN BEATS

Credit data company Experian (EXPN) posted third-quarter revenue growth that exceeded its previous target on Tuesday, as the world’s largest company of its type benefited from strong US mortgage volumes while flagging a slowdown in the current quarter.

Record low interest rates in the US to reboot the economy hit by the Covid pandemic have supported a jump in home sales.

The FTSE 100 company, which runs credit score checks for individuals and companies who seek to take out loans, said organic revenue jumped 7% for the three months ended 31 December, much higher than its previous target of between 3% and 5%, lifting the stock more than 1% to £27.11.

Online retailer AO World (AO.) reported a 67.2% surge in third-quarter sales in the UK as demand for electrical products from consumers stuck at home remained robust well into the Christmas season.

With many Britons working from home due to lockdown restrictions, sales of electrical goods and home office products have been high. But concerns over losses continues to worry investors, who marked the stock more than 6% lower to 354p, the biggest faller on the FTSE All-Share.

OXO cube maker Premier Foods (PFD) nudged 1% lower to 107p despite saying that it expects higher full-year profit after online sales jumped 90% in the third-quarter leading up to the busy Christmas season.

The company expects annual trading profit to be between £145 million and £150 million, compared with £132.6 million that it reported last year.

Real estate company British Land (BLND) climbed 0.8% to 457.7p on news that it had appointed Bhavesh Mistry as chief financial officer.

Mistry was currently deputy CFO at Tesco (TSCO), a position he had held for over two years.

Gold miner Centamin (CEY) firmed 2.5% to 119.05p, having maintained its guidance for 2021 after reporting annual production that met its revised expectations.

MOONPIG CONFIRMS IPO

Online greetings card retailer Moonpig confirmed plans for its £1.2 billion London listing on Tuesday, targeting a free float of at least 25% of its issued share capital at admission.

British fashion group Superdry (SDRY) plunged 11% to 214.2p on Tuesday after it reported a wider first-half loss and another big drop in sales in the Christmas quarter, hurt by Covid-19 lockdowns that have shuttered its stores.

The company, best known for its sweatshirts, hoodies, jackets and coats, made an underlying pre-tax loss of £10.6 million in the six months to 24 October, versus a loss of £2.3 million in the same period in 2019

London-based shopping centre operator Hammerson (HMSO) said on Tuesday it received less than half of the rents due for the first quarter as stricter Covid restrictions aggravate conditions in Britain's high streets and rest of Europe.

Construction and infrastructure services group Kier (KIE) jumped 12% to 84.2p after telling investors that it expected to deliver half-year results ‘slightly above’ its expectations following an improvement in site productivity amid the ongoing pandemic.

The company also said it anticipates that a reduction in adjusting items in the period would generate a statutory result ‘materially better’ than the corresponding period last year.

Chocolatier Hotel Chocolat (HOTC:AIM) rallied nearly 3% to 380p after reporting a rise in revenue in the 13 weeks through December as online growth more than offset the impact of shuttered stores owing to Covid restrictions.

For the 13-week and 26-week periods ended 27 December 2020, revenue increased 19% and 11% year-on-year respectively. In the UK, online growth more than offset the impact of the temporary closures of physical retail due to Covid restrictions, the company said.

Rental and student accommodation developer Watkin Jones (WJG:AIM) gained 6.4% to 198.3p, even as it booked a 47% drop in annual profit after the pandemic led to the deferral of forward sales on developments.

Watkin Jones declared a full-year dividend of 7.35p per share, down 12% year-on-year, but still welcomed by investors keen for yield in a tough market.

Flooring and specialist construction group Mountfield tumbled 31% to 0.42p after it said it was considering making 'structural changes' as the pandemic batters its bottom line.

Mountfield (MOGP:AIM) also said its profit for the second half would be lower than that recorded for the first half.

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Issue Date: 19 Jan 2021