London’s FTSE 100 fell modestly in early dealings on Monday, off 0.2% at 7,120.61 by 8.45 am, as the spread of more transmissible forms of the virus that causes Covid-19, both at home and abroad, tempered global recovery hopes.

Brent crude oil prices held firm above $76 per barrel while gold nudged 0.1% ahead to $1,784 per ounce.

Higher oil prices, a major cost, together with fading hopes of a profitable summer for the industry, saw shares in major airlines including EasyJet (EZJ) an Jet2 (JET2:AIM) decline.

Other movers included Covid-19 vaccine maker AstraZeneca (AZN), which firmed 0.5% to £85.37 after its Forxiga chronic kidney disease treatment was recommended for approval in the European Union.

Separately, the pharmaceutical giant flagged positive trial results for its Nirsevimab passive immunisation against respiratory syncytial virus in infants.

BURBERRY BOSS TO STEP DOWN

Luxury goods group Burberry (BRBY) cheapened 9.6% to £20.35 on the news Marco Gobbetti plans to step down as CEO and leave the company at the end of 2021.

Burberry said Gobbetti, who has led the transformation of the trench coat-to-cashmere scarves seller’s brand and business, wants to take up another opportunity that will enable him to return to Italy and be closer to his family.

Luxury leader Burberry will now begin the search for a successor.

Food-on-the-go retailer Greggs (GRG) gained 1% to £25.86 after serving up news of continued strong recovery in performance in an impromptu trading statement.

The value sandwiches-to-sausage rolls seller said like-for-like sales in company-managed shops in recent weeks has remained positive versus the comparable period in 2019.

Greggs insisted this level of sustained sales recovery is ‘stronger than we had anticipated’ and if it were to continue, would have a ‘materially positive impact on the expected financial result for the year’.

SERCO IMPROVES

Elsewhere, outsourcer Serco (SRP) improved 1.3% to 133.2p on news it has won a contract worth up to £322 million from the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to continue providing support services to Covid-19 test centres.

CEO Rupert Soames said ‘we are proud of the part we have played in building and operating the UK’s highly successful Covid-19 testing infrastructure.

‘From a standing start in March 2020, NHS Test & Trace has grown a network of regional, local and mobile sites which have delivered over 18.5 million individual tests, an average of 51,000 tests a day.’

Soames added that he is ‘delighted that the DHSC has selected us to continue to support them in providing these services for at least the next twelve months’.

HgCapital Trust (HGT) added 1p to 339p after the private equity investor agreed the sale of workforce and people management software-as-a-service provider Allocate to RLDatix.

The deal values HGCapital’s investment in Allocate at roughly £53.5 million, an uplift of £9.4 million or 21% over the carrying value of £44.1 million in the trust’s net asset value at 31 March 2021.

OTHER RISERS AND FALLERS

Engineering play Wood Group (WG.) rose 0.8% to 219p, having agreed to pay compensation and other penalties of a combined $177 million related to bribery and corruption allegations related to historical conduct in its legacy Amec Foster Wheeler business.

Totally (TLY:AIM) ticked up 2.6% to 39.25p after winning a contract worth up to £850,000 to provide endoscopy procedures to The Saolta Group of Hospitals in Galway, Ireland, covering six hospitals.

And brain health-focused Cambridge Cognition (COG:AIM) jumped 11% to 152.5p on its selection as the cognitive assessment partner for a large at-home study in a contract worth £2.2 million.

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Issue Date: 28 Jun 2021