The FTSE 100 has continued to climb throughout trading on Friday with a steady flow of positive news boosting investor sentiment.
Reuters reports that a Brexit trade deal could be ‘imminent’ with an agreement expected by the end of the weekend barring any last minute breakdown in talks, while construction industry data released earlier today also provided optimism having beat all forecasts, indicating there is investment taking place in the economy once again.
It comes after a jump in oil prices linked to a new OPEC deal which helped boost energy stocks, offsetting investor concerns over news that US drugs giant Pfizer has had to slash its roll-out target of its Covid-19 vaccine.
By lunchtime, the UK’s benchmark index had gained 0.86% to 6,545.82, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 index was up 0.56% to 20,244.30.
In company news, Associated British Foods (ABF) climbed 3.5% to £23.83 after it said it expected Primark sales and profit to be higher this year even as it raised its estimate for lost sales owing to temporary store closures during the November lockdown.
Utility giant SSE (SSE) gained 2.4% to £13.93 as it entered into an agreement to sell a 10% stake in the first two phases of Dogger Bank Wind Farm to Italian energy giant Eni for an equity consideration of £202.5 million.
Real estate developer Land Securities (LAND) rose 1.9% to 725.9p as it exchanged contracts to sell 1 & 2 New Ludgate to Sun Venture for £552 million.
Pet supplies retailer Pets at Home (PETS) slid 1.8% to 391p as it revealed it will take a profit hit of £35 million after it announced it is repaying the £28.9 million of business rates relief received across the business during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company said it was doing this as it is no longer be able to offset Covid-specific costs against relief.
Homebuilder Berkeley (BKG) dipped 0.7% to £48.19 having reported a fall in first-half profit on lower sales of homes owing to the impact of the lockdown earlier this year.
For the six months ended 31 October, pre-tax profit fell 16.6% to £230.8 million year-on-year as revenue fell to £895.9 million from £930.9 million.
SMALL CAP WRAP
Own-label household products manufacturer McBride (MCB) jumped 9.3% to 72.15p after telling the market it will show growth ahead of expectations in the first-half.
Better still, that will mean that pre-tax profit for the full year to 20 June 2021 is now anticipated to be ‘at least 10% ahead of the current market consensus of £25.2 million’, although the company remains mindful of ongoing economic uncertainty.
Estate agency group Hunters Property (HUNT:AIM) soared 19.7% to 70p after it confirmed media reports it had received a preliminary approach from The Property Franchise Group about a possible takeover.
Customised electronics maker DiscoverIE (DSCV) gained 3.57% to 580p as it continued its buy-and-build strategy after acquiring German business Limitor for up to €18 million.
Microcap X-ray screening systems supplier Image Scan (IGE:AIM) jumped 20.9% to 2.6p after it reported a pre-tax profit of £113,000, compared with a loss of £2.4 million year-on-year as sales increased 50% to £3.5 million for the year ended 30 September 2020.