UK stocks are surprisingly weak on Thursday after Wall Street staged its biggest one-day rally in almost a decade yesterday.

Despite the S&P500 and Dow Industrials indices both notching up 5% gains, their best performance in a single day since the market low in March 2009, the FTSE 100 has slipped to a new low for the year down 25 points or 0.3% to 6,660.

Defensive sectors such as Pharmaceuticals, Telecoms and Utilities appear to be the main drag on the index.

The top individual FTSE 100 performer is global investment trust Scottish Mortgage (SMT) adding 20p or 4.5% to 463p thanks to its exposure to the US stock market.

Bottom of the pile is software infrastructure provider Micro Focus (MCRO) with shares down 60p or 4.5% to £13.20.

The FTSE 250 index of mid-cap stocks is just about in positive territory up 7 points to 17,319.

Top performer is fashion brand Superdry (SDRY) with shares climbing 35p or 8% to 460p despite downbeat comments on overall Christmas sales and high-street footfall from sector experts Springboard.

Also among the gainers is contracts for difference (CFD) provider Plus500 (PLUS) with shares rising 77p or 6% to £13.80 after the company reveals that full-year earnings will be ‘ahead of current market expectations’.

Despite the regulatory changes brought in by the European Securities and markets Authority (ESMA) in August the company ‘has continued to perform well’ thanks to product innovation and increased market volatility.

Further down the market shares in cross-border payment firm Earthport (EPO) rocket by over 250% after US credit card giant Visa announces a £198 million or 30p per share bid.

Earthport shares closed at just 7.5p on Monday, down nearly 30% on the year as the company faced ‘significant challenges’, losing a major customer and having to replace its chief executive.

Meanwhile shareholders in Faroe Petroleum (FPM) receive a none too subtle nudge from Norwegian suitor DNO to accept its 152p per share offer which closes on January 2nd.

DNO insists that rather than being opportunistic its offer is ‘full and fair, even generous’. It also criticises Faroe's board for its rebuttal of the bid and its management record.

The message is that if shareholders don’t accept the deal DNO could let it lapse, in which case it can’t make a new offer for another 12 months and ‘there can be no assurances’ it will do so.

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Issue Date: 27 Dec 2018