After a strong start opening on the back of gains in Asian markets and bid stories, the FTSE 100 index trod water for most of the day to close 21 points or 0.3% higher at 7,109 points. Gains in consumer and mining stocks were offset by losses for healthcare and utility names.

One stock which managed to extend its morning gains was supermarket group Sainsbury (SBRY), which finished up 15% to 340p having opened around 10% up at 325p. Weekend press reports suggested US private equity firm Apollo Global Management was 'running the rule' over the business as the battle for control of smaller rival Morrisons (MRW) continues.

Luxury brand Burberry (BRBY) rose 3.5% to £18.90 while Pearson (PSON) rallied more than 2% to 774.65p, benefitting from an rating upgrade from JP Morgan Cazenove.

The pound strengthened against major currencies, trading at $1.365 and €0.8588.

ASIA-PACIFIC RALLY

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were higher on Monday as manufacturing surveys for August to be released today will offer an early indication of how global growth is faring in the face of the Delta variant.

The Shanghai Composite in China surged 1.86% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.67%. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 jumped 1.85% while South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.4%.

Looking ahead, economists and analysts will be taking note of the set-piece speech given by Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell later this week at the virtual version of the annual Jackson Hole get together of central bankers.

In particular, further guidance will be sought on US plans to taper its bond-buying programme. Today’s calendar highlights include flash PMI readings from the Eurozone, UK and US.

MOVING ON THE MARKET

EasyJet (EZJ), nudged 1% higher to 809p after appointing former RBS boss Stephen Hester as director and chairman designate. He will replace current chairman John Barton 1 December 2021.

London West End retail property investor Shaftesbury (SHB) firmed 0.2% to 622.5p as its vacancy rates fell and rental collection improved, amid a recovery in footfall following an easing of lockdowns.

In a trading update for between 1 April and 20 August, Shaftesbury said its available-to-let vacancy rate had fallen to 4.6% at the end of July and to 4.1% by 13 August.

Advertising company WPP (WPP) added 0.7% to 979.6p in the wake of news that it had acquired technology group Satalia.

Satalia, with more than 80 staff across multiple markets in Europe, offered artificial intelligence solutions for clients that included BT, DFS, Tesco and Unilever, WPP said.

Consumer goods group UP Global Sourcing (UPGS), also known as Ultimate Products, rallied 4% to 220p as it forecast a 37% rise in annual underlying profit underpinned by growth at supermarkets and other retail channels.

Underlying pre-tax profit for the year through July was seen rising to £11.2 million, up from £8.2 million year-on-year and ahead of market consensus of £10.8 million, UP Global Sourcing said.

SMALLER CAP WRAP

Industrial chain maker Renold (RNO:AIM) jumped 15% to 22.49p, having upgraded its guidance after revenue in the first four months of its financial year rose 14% amid a recovery in demand.

Renold said it now expected its adjusted operating profit for both the first half and full year to be higher than both market expectations and the equivalent prior-year period.

Subtitles and dubbing group Zoo Digital (ZOO:AIM) fell 4.5% to 135.15p, even as it forecast its first-half revenue to jump at least 51%, as production operations resume in the film and television industry.

Zoo Digital said it was ‘confident of exceeding’ current full-year revenue expectations and would invest any additional gross profit in future growth.

Facilities management group Mitie (MTO) added 1.0% to 71.9p after it agreed to sell its document management business to Swiss Post Solutions for £40 million, in line with a plan to sell non-core assets.

The document management business had delivered revenue of £48 million and an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £4.2 million for the year through March.

Building materials supplier SigmaRoc’s (SRC:AIM)climbed 2.4% to 103.92p, having booked a doubling for first-half profit after acquisitions helped boost revenue.

SigmaRoc’s pre-tax profit for the six months through June increased to £7.1 million, up from £3.5 million year-on-year, as revenue jumped 56% to £84.8 million.

Analytics-as-a-service company Actual Experience (ACT:AIM) jumped 8.4% to 110p on news that it won a multi-year continuous improvement contract from an unnamed energy supplier.

Compliance and energy services group Sureserve (SUR:AIM) firmed 5.1% to 95.6p after it retained a long-term gas servicing, repair and installation contract with social housing provider the Guinness Partnership.

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Issue Date: 23 Aug 2021