London’s FTSE 100 gained 0.82% by lunchtime on Tuesday to reach 7,026.99, jumping back above the psychologically important 7,000 level as investors looked to the reopening and holidays starting again.

Travel stocks in particular have been buoyed on hopes of EU tourism opening up again next month, with British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) gaining 2.8% to 208.5p, while budget airline EasyJet (EZJ) rose 3% to £10.67 and tour operator TUI (TUI) climbed 4.3% to 449.4p.

Also helping sentiment was manufacturing data with the latest PMI for April coming at 60.9 compared to the 60.7 expected. A score above 50 signifies expansion in the sector, and April’s reading was the highest since July 1994.

Mortgage borrowing has also hit a record level, reaching £11.8 billion in March – the highest since records began in 1993 – as the number of mortgages approved for home purchases in March stood at 82,700. This was lower than the recent peak of 103,100 in November 2020 but still higher than the 73,000 approvals in February last year before the pandemic started.

£60 MILLION BUYBACK FOR FRASERS

In company news, retailing group Frasers (FRAS), the old Sports Direct, rallied 4.5% to 539p after it kicked off an up to £60 million share buyback.

Advertising company S4Capital (SFOR) firmed 2% to 570p having upgraded its annual guidance after its first-quarter gross profit jumped 71% as acquisitions boosted sales.

S4Capital, run by Sir Martin Sorrell, also announced that it had acquired Brazilian digital performance agency Raccoon, for an undisclosed sum.

Outdoor advertising group Ocean Outdoor (OOUT) reversed 0.9% to $8 as it booked a £184.3 million annual pre-tax loss after its revenue slumped 17% and it wrote down the value of its assets, citing the pandemic.

Subprime lender Provident Financial (PROV) fell 2.1% to 239.6p after it said it would announce the outcome of a review of its troubled consumer credit business next Monday.

Provident Financial said it had noted recent media coverage regarding the review, including the possibility of a managed run-off of its home credit and Satsuma businesses.

Healthcare investor Syncona (SYNC) climbed 3.4% to 245.5p on news that portfolio company Gyroscope Therapeutics had set a price range for a planned initial public offering in the US.

Syncona said that range would represent an increase in value of its current shareholding in Gyroscope of £52 million-to-£72 million, or 7.7p-to-10.7p per Syncona share.

Real estate investor Londonmetric Property (LMP) rose 0.2% to 225.8p as it secured £780 million of refinancing, including a £380 million private debt placement and two revolving credit facilities totaling £400 million.

Student accommodation developer Unite (UTG) added 0.9% to £11.75 as it extended a London-focused joint venture with GIC by 10 years to September 2032.

SMALL CAP WRAP

Cocktail bar group Nightcap (NGHT:AIM) sank 17.8% to 27.56p, having launched a £4 million share issue, at a yet-to-be-determined price, to help fund the acquisition of Adventure Bar, which would see it operate nine more properties.

The maximum acquisition cost for Adventure Bar was £2.5 million, including an initial £1 million and up to £1.5 million of deferred consideration, dependent on financial performance.

Flooring manufacturer Victoria (VCP:AIM) firmed 2.9% to £10.08 on news that it had acquired Dutch artificial grass and carpets group Edel for €49.4 million.

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Issue Date: 04 May 2021