London’s FTSE 100 finished Tuesday’s trading session 0.76% higher at a fresh 20-month high of 7,277.62 points as UK investors reacted to strong corporate results and a recent decline in Covid cases boosted travel and services sector stocks.

Meanwhile, US and European markets rose as excitement around the technology sector grew ahead of earnings from the likes of Microsoft, Google-owner Alphabet and Twitter.

DRAFTKINGS ENDS ENTAIN PURSUIT

FTSE 100 sports betting and gaming giant Entain (ENT) fell 5.8% to £20.14 after US fantasy sports company DraftKings dropped its pursuit of the Ladbrokes-to-Foxy Bingo owner.

DraftKings has decided that it will not make a firm offer ‘at this time’ for Entain, which expressed confidence in its ability to ‘continue to deliver material value’ for shareholders as a standalone business going forwards.

Elsewhere, Premier Inn owner Whitbread (WTB) rose 4.5% to £32.98 after it posted a narrower first half loss as an easing of travel restrictions resulted in a more encouraging outlook for the hotel business.

‘Sales recovery is ahead of expectations, and while a number of uncertainties remain, UK like-for-like RevPAR run rate has the potential to reach full recovery at some point in 2022,’ the company said.

RECKITT RAISES GUIDANCE

Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser (RKT) rallied 6.2% to £58.12 after the firm posted better than expected third quarter sales and raised its full year guidance.

Shares in distribution and services group Bunzl (BNZL) edged 0.5% higher to £25.98 after the company reported a rise in third quarter revenue following a ‘strong’ recovery in its core business.

Underlying sales growth of 12% was driven by product price inflation, particularly in North America and from firmer demand across all business areas.

However this growth was mitigated by a decline in sales of top eight Covid-19 related products, which are primarily own brand. While top-line expectations have been increased, margin expectations for the year are unchanged.

PETROFAC PLUNGES

Shares in oil services company Petrofac (PFC) slumped 8.8% to 144.1p after it booked a first half loss and announced it is undertaking a $275 million equity raising at 115p per share, a marked discount to Monday’s closing share price of 158p.

Net losses for the six months through September amounted to $86 million, compared to year-on-year losses of $78 million. Revenue dropped 24% to $1.6 billion.

IG Design (IGR:AIM) slumped 38.2% to 272.5p after the consumer gift packaging company warned full year earnings will be ‘significantly below’ current market expectations as rising costs and supply chain disruption bite.

Ominously, the greetings cards, Christmas crackers and creative play products maker also cautioned cost and supply chain headwinds are likely to continue into the second half of this year and for an ‘as yet unknown period’ in the year to March 2023.

Stockbroker Arden Partners (ARDN:AIM) powered 20.5% higher to 26.5p after recommending a premium-priced, all-share takeover offer from law firm Ince (INCE:AIM) in a deal valuing Arden at around £10 million.

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Issue Date: 26 Oct 2021