UK stocks got off to a steady start on Thursday, boosted by gains in heavyweight mining stocks, while Deliveroo (ROO) posted a jump in first quarter orders. The benchmark FTSE 100 rose 0.3% in early deals, hitting 6,960.85, with miners providing the biggest boost to the index as they tracked higher metal prices.

Investors will be closely watching the FTSE 100 to see if it has the momentum to finally claw its way above the 7,000 level for the first time since the pandemic struck. It’s a landmark level, if only in the minds of investors, but breaking back above that level would be positive for the UK market zeitgeist.

The more domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 marched its large cap peer with a 0.3% move higher, hitting a record high 22,423.97.

In the US overnight, earnings season got off with a bang driven by better-than-expected results from three of the biggest US banks – JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo. Stocks soared on the news but later gave back their gains.

Bitcoin surged above $64,000 as Coinbase Global made its public debut on Nasdaq, surging from a starting reference price to $250 to $381.

DIY URGE STILL STRONG

House builder Berkeley (BKG) led the FTSE 100 leader board in early trade, up 2.35% at £46.26, closely followed by home improvement retailer Kingfisher (KGF). It rallied just over 2% to 347.06p in in the wake of news that the demerger of rival Wickes should be complete by the end of the month.

The shares are currently trading at levels last seen in 2017.

Wickes’ owner Travis Perkins (TPK), the building supplies group, was up 3.2% to £16.905 after it provided an upbeat update on trading.

The big faller was Legal & General (LGEN), down 3.8% at 279.5p, which began trading without entitlement to its latest dividend.

DELIVEROO ORDERS SOAR

Food delivery company Deliveroo said orders more than doubled in the quarter to 31 March in its first trading update since its highly-anticipated listing in London last month flopped.

Growth accelerated for the fourth consecutive quarter, the company said, with group orders up 114% year-on-year to 71 million and gross transaction value up 130% year-on-year to £1.65 billion.

But casting off the hangover from the IPO disappointment will take time, with the stock slipping 0.7% to 268.28p, 30% below its 390p float price.

Online white goods seller AO World (AO.) rose 1.2% to 321p after it said it expected to report annual adjusted profit in line with market expectations following a strong final quarter to the fiscal year.

For the year ended 31 March 2021, adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation is expected to be in the range £63 million to £72 million, up from £19.6 million and in line with market consensus of about £66 million.

Sports-betting and gaming entertainment company Entain (ENT) rose 1.2% to £16.25 after making a ‘strong’ start to the year, with online gaming revenue rising by 33% in the first quarter of the year.

Total revenue for the quarter fell 13%, weighed down by its retail business, which was ‘significantly impacted by Covid restrictions with almost all shops entirely closed for the quarter,’ the company said.

ELSEWHERE ON THE MARKET

Analytics and eCommerce optimisation company Ascential (ASCL) rose 1.6% to 360.80p after acquiring Toronto-based Perpetua Labs, an eCommerce media optimisation business, for an initial $52 million.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) was flat at £14.37 after saying it has prepared this Energy Transition Strategy publication, which is designed to bring the company's energy products, services, and investments in line with the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement, for submission to a shareholder advisory vote. The AGM, which will be webcast, is scheduled for 18 May 2021.

In the FTSE 250, cell and gene therapy group Oxford Biomedica (OXB) was up 1.6% to £10.56, after reporting total revenues increase by 37% to £87.7 million in the year ending 31 December 2020.

Wizz Air (WIZZ) rallied 1.2% to £49.25 after reporting that it is expecting to report a net loss of €570 million to €590 million and a full year underlying loss of €475 million to €495 million for full year 2021, as it continues to battle the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions.

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Issue Date: 15 Apr 2021