UK stocks got off to a positive start on Friday despite GDP data for May coming in below expectations.

Data from the office of national statistics showed the economy grew 0.8% year-on-year in May, slower than the 2% recorded in April.

Construction and manufacturing output contracted slightly indicating the economic recovery may be losing some steam. Despite this, the pound remained stable trading flat against the US dollar at $1.37.

Trading was relatively quiet in Asia with China’s SE Composite down slightly and Japan’s Nikkei 225 off 0.7%.

At 1.30pm the FTSE 100 index of leading shares was up 50 points or 0.7% to 7,080 points led by real estate and industrial stocks while oil and financial stocks lagged.

Meanwhile the pound climbed to to $1.3834 against the US dollar and €1.1660 against the euro.

CORPORATE NEWS

Shares in pharmaceutical firm Vectura (VEC) jumped 13% to 153p after the firm announced it had received a takeover offer from US tobacco maker Philip Morris pitched at 150p per share.

The offer trumps the 136p per share approach from private equity investor Carlyle, and as a result the board has recommended it to shareholders.

Land Securities (LAND) confirmed its first quarterly dividend for 2021/22 will be 7p per share, paid on 8 October to shareholders on the register at 27 August.

The company said it had made good progress on rent collection with 81% of rent due on 24 June collected as of 27 July. The shares added 3% to 688p.

Chemicals specialist Synthomer (SYNT) said it had appointed Roberto Gualdoni as a non-executive director.

Gualdoni will join the board immediately and become a member of the Audit, Remuneration and Nomination Committees.

Roberto replaces Just Jansz, who will be stepping down the end of August 2021 following nine years at the company. The shares gained 3.5% to 520p.

High performance polymer solutions company Victrex (VCT) said good momentum continued in the third quarter to June with revenues up 37% to £80.7 million.

Year to date, revenues were 10% ahead at £231.6 million as volumes increased 18% compared with last year.

The company said the sales mix remains skewed towards our Industrial end markets although Medical is seeing an encouraging performance as some geographies see elective surgeries return in greater numbers. The shares added 1.5% to £26.22.

Materials and textile company HeiQ (HEIQ) said it had completed its previously announced acquisition of Life Material Technologies, a materials technology company that has developed a portfolio of smart ingredients.

As part of the deal, the company will issue 1,887,883 new ordinary shares to the sellers of Life Material Technologies, at a price of £1.49 per share. The shares gained 1.8% to 138p.

RECORD AUM

Asset manager Premier Miton Group (PMI:AIM) said third quarter assets under management increased by £1 billion, roughly 8% to £13.6 billion, an all-time high for the company and 28% above the position at 30 September 20220.

Net inflows for the quarter were £351 million, taking year to date inflows to £790 million. The shares gained 0.9% to 187p, a new 52 week high.

Shares in drug development company Evgen Pharma (EVG:AIM) sank 35% to 4.85p after it said a study of its drug to treat acute respiratory infections fell short of expectations, and would now be halted.

The results showed that the company's lead asset SFX-01, when used together with standard care, didn’t indicate overall a statistically significant improvement in patients initially hospitalised with community acquired pneumonia.

Shares in solid state battery maker Ilika (IKA:AIM) also fell sharply after the firm announced it would place 17.6 million new shares in a deeply discounted placing, together with an open offer and retail offer.

The placing is priced at 140p against Thursday's closing price of 200p, sending Ilika shares down 17% to 165p.

A list of FTSE All-Share movers can be seen HERE

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Issue Date: 09 Jul 2021