FTSE bounced on Thursday, up 0.6% at 5,460 points, driven by energy stocks after China increased US Crude Oil purchases, snapping up cargoes at the widest discounts ever as sellers seek to offload supplies in Asia.
Brent Crude jumped 9% to $25.3 lifting UK oil stocks with Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) up by 7% to £14.5 and BP (BP.) 6% higher at 353p. Premier Oil (PMO) was 11% higher at 17.5p and Tullow Oil (TLW) was 10% firmer at 11.4p.
Asian markets were mixed overnight with China’s SSE index up 1.7% while Japan’s Nikkei index dropped 1.4% and Korea’s Kospi index was 1% higher.
In currency markets, the pound was 0.3% firmer against the US dollar at $1.24.
NEW NAMES TO AXE DIVIDENDS
Energy giant Centrica (CAN) said it would cancel its dividend as part of a move to cut costs and said it would delay the sale of its stake in Spirit Energy until energy and financial markets were stable.
The 2019 final dividend payment of 3.5p per share, due to be paid in June 2020, was cancelled and the total cash outflow from the 2019 final dividend was expected to be £204m.The shares were off 4% at 35.5p.
Shares in specialist international distribution and services Group, Bunzl (BNZL) fell 2.5% t £15.3 after cancelling its final dividend for the year ended 31 December, while senior management and the board took a 20% reduction in salaries and fees.
The third interim dividend due to be paid on 9 April has been cancelled. The shares rallied 2% to 538p.
In a pre-close update ahead of its full year results, expected to be published in June, National Grid (NG.) said it has not yet seen a 'material impact' on its financial performance as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, but is starting to see some delays and disruption to its capital programme.
It expects to deliver underlying earnings for FY20, before any COVID-19 impacts, in line with the technical guidance provided at its half year results last November. The shares fell 2% to 891p.
It said ‘the high quality of our portfolio and strength of our balance sheet means we are well placed to weather the storm caused by the pandemic.’ The shares rallied 3.4% to 765p.
Shares in recruitment firm Hays (HAS) dropped 9% to 100p after announcing a £200m equity raise to shore-up its balance sheet. Trading between 1 January and 13 March was in line with expectations, with net fees down 5% year-on-year.
Also raising cash was cruise ship company Carnival (CCL) which announced the price at $8 per share and said the amount of the offering has been reduced to around $500m from $1.25bn as previously indicated. The shares fell 7% to 726p.