UK stocks closed near the high of the day on Tuesday as risk appetite returned and investors looked through the current wave of virus infections.

Notable gains were seen across the travel sector with British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) and low budget airline Wizz Air (WIZZ) shares up 6% and 4% respectively.

Hospitality was given a boost the Chancellor announced a bailout plan, boosting Restaurant Group’s (RTN) shares by 6%.

At the close the FTSE 100 index of leading shares was up 1.4% to 7,297 points.

PHARMACEUTICAL NEWS

There was further positive product news from drug makers with AstraZeneca (AZN) reporting its autoimmune treatment Ultomiris had been accepted for priority review by the US FDA (Food & Drug Administration) in the second quarter of next year. The shares gained 1.2% to £85.93.

Rival GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced its Apretude long-acting anti-HIV treatment, produced by its majority-owned specialist subsidiary ViiV Healthcare, had been approved by the FDA, lifting its shares 1% to £16.08.

FINANCIAL M&A

Consolidation in the asset management sector continued with confirmation from FTSE 100 firm Schroders (SDR) it had agreed to buy 75% of the shares of specialist renewable infrastructure investor Greencoat Capital for £358 million.

The deal brings in £6.7 billion in assets under management and forms part of Schroders’ ambition to be ‘a global leader in this fast-growing and important sector’. The shares traded 3% higher at £34.80.

Meanwhile, smaller manager River & Mercantile (RIV) said it had extended the deadline for rival bidders Assetco and Premier Miton Group (PMI) to make an offer for the firm to 18 January, with the usual caveat there was no guarantee an offer would be made. The shares closed unchanged at 302p.

SMALLER CO ROUND-UP

Specialist staffing firm Empresaria (EMR:AIM) reported trading had been strong through the final quarter of the year and pre-tax profits would therefore be ‘materially’ ahead of forecasts, sending the shares up 8.7% to 75p.

Life sciences software provider Instem (INS:AIM) said it had won new business from existing and new customers in China, meaning ‘increasing earnings visibility’ and higher margins. The shares surged 5.2% to 852.2p.

After jumping more than 9% yesterday on an increase in the earnings outlook, shares in video games service provider Keywords Studios (KWS:AIM) added a further 1% to £27.80 on news it had made two small bolt-on acquisitions, in the UK and Australia, for £9.8 million and $6.5 million respectively.

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Issue Date: 21 Dec 2021