UK stocks moved higher on Tuesday on optimism over an economic recovery and as President Biden pushed for a large US stimulus package.

Trading overnight in Asia was buoyant with Japan's Nikkei 225 index up 1% while the China SE Composite index gained 0.8%. Brent Crude prices were 1% higher at $57 a barrel.

After strong gains yesterday, silver dropped 5% to $27.4 an ounce while gold prices dropped 0.7% to $1,846 an ounce. The pound continued recent gains against the US dollar trading up 0.3% at $1.37.

At midday the FTSE 100 of leading shares was up 0.5% at 6,500 points with re-opening stocks such as Whitbread (WTB), IHG (IHG) and IAG (IAG) leading the gains.

CORPORATE NEWS

Oil major BP (BP) said underlying replacement cost profit for the three months to 31 December 2020 fell to £115 million from £2.57 billion the previous year.

For the full year, the company reported a underlying replacement cost loss of £5.69 billion compared with a profit of £10 billion year-on-year.

The company cut its dividend by 50% to 5.25 cents per share for the quarter, making the stock one of the biggest index losers down 3.2% to 258p.

Power utility SSE (SEE) stuck to its full-year earnings guidance after a rise in gas-fired production offset lower generation from renewable sources.

SSE said it still expected adjusted earnings per share for the year through March of between 85p and 90p.

The company said it intended to recommend a full-year dividend of 80p per share plus the retail price index (RPI) and continued to target annual RPI increases UP to 2023, as set out in its five-year dividend plan. The shares traded sideways at £15.2.

Marketing and support services group DCC (DCC) said it expected operating profit to top market consensus as acquisitions completed in the prior year boosted organic growth in the third quarter.

DCC committed approximately £230 million to new acquisitions across Europe and North America since its annual results last year.

For the third quarter ended 31 December 2020, the company reported good growth across its LPG, retail & oil divisions, though demand was hurt by Covid-19 restrictions. The shares added 1% to £57.77.

Shares in food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway.com (JET) fell 2.2% to £82.32 after it raised €1.1 billion through a convertible bond offering.

The company said it intended to use the net proceeds from the issue of the convertible bonds for general corporate purposes as well as to provide the company with financial flexibility to act on strategic opportunities which may arise.

Banking group Virgin Money UK (VMUK) said it returned to profit in the first quarter, and reiterated its full-year margin guidance.

Customer lending at the end of December was £72.5 billion, down 0.3% from the end of September.

Customer deposits rose 0.9% to £67.5 million, while credit provisions fell to £735 million, down from £726 million. The shares climbed 5.3% to 139p.

Waste and climate management group Polypipe (PLP) said trading continued to recover through December, with annual underlying operating profit expected ‘slightly ahead’ of previous guidance of around £40 million.

Positive momentum had continued into the new year without any material impact from the third national lockdown, it added.

The company also said it had acquired underfloor heating supplier Nu-Heat for £27 million. The shares added 2.8% to 528p.

Property investment company Capital & Counties (CAPC) said it had collected 42% of first-quarter December rents, which was broadly in line with collection rates at the same point in the previous quarter.

Rent collection levels for previous periods, meanwhile, had continued to increase, with collections at 50%, 44% and 51% for Q2 to Q4 2020, the company said. The shares dipped 1.9% to 133p.

On its first day of trading, online card company Moonpig (MOON) gained 25% to 438p.

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Issue Date: 02 Feb 2021