The FTSE 100 finished Monday’s trading session 0.44% to the good at 7,255.46 points, with continuity-craving markets welcoming the White House’s confirmation it will stick with Jay Powell as chairman of the US Federal Reserve.

Also lending some support was speculation about private equity interest in several UK firms following the $12 billion bid for Telecom Italia; BT Group (BT.A) was bid up 2.5% to 164.7p, while Vodafone (VOD) closed 3.2% higher at 117.2p.

The FTSE 250 closed 0.27% lower at 23,429.70 points, though index constituent Marks & Spencer (MKS) was marked up almost 2% to 245.5p on rumours New York-based private equity giant Apollo Global Management might be mulling a takeover bid for the rejuvenated retailer.

UK equity markets had started Monday’s trading session on a positive note despite increasing concerns regarding the rapid rise in Covid-19 infections in Europe, where Austria has been forced to impose a lockdown on unvaccinated citizens.

MINING CLOSURES SMASH HOCHSCHILD

In corporate news, mining group Hochschild Mining (HOC) slumped 27.2% to 119.8p after the Government in Peru voted to shutdown mines in the Ayacucho region due to environmental concerns.

Hochschild, which owns two of the mines in the area, maintains that its operations run under the highest environmental standards and will fight what it believes to be ‘illegal’ efforts by the Peruvian authorities to close the mines.

The two mines earmarked for closure account for over two-thirds of the group’s annual gold output.

Staying in the sector, industry giant BHP (BHP) moved 3.1% higher to £19.43 after it agreed to merge its oil and gas portfolio with Woodside, to create a global energy company that will be listed on the ASX.

Woodside will acquire BHP’s petroleum assets in return for a 48% in the combined company. Woodside will pay just under $20bn for the assets. The deal is set to close on the second quarter of 2022 (calendar year), and the effective date of the merger is 1 July 2021.

In a separate announcement, BHP said it had approved US$1.5 billion in capital expenditure for development of the Scarborough upstream project located in the North Carnarvon Basin, Western Australia.

Shares in technical products and services business Diploma (DPLM) jumped by 8% to £34.60 after the company reported a jump in annual profit, driven by a boost from acquisitions including Windy City Wire.

For the year ended 30 September 2021, pre-tax profit jumped to £96.6 million from £66.7 million as revenue increased 46% to £787.4 million. The company recommended a 51% increase in the final dividend to 30.1p, taking the total dividend for the year to 42.6p, up from 30p.

The company offered positive guidance for 2022 of mid-single digit revenue growth and an adjusted operating margin between 18% and 19%.

FRONTIER FALLS

Video games developer Frontier Developments (FDEV:AIM) saw its share price plunge 32% to £17 after the company slashed growth guidance for the year to May 2022. Frontier now expects revenue of between £100 million to £130 million, down from the previous forecast of £130 million to £150 million.

The new CEO of engineer Smiths (SMIN) Paul Keel has defended the company’s conglomerate structure, following plans by General Electric and Toshiba to break-up their diversified structures to extract better shareholder value.

For the time being investors seem fairly relaxed about Smiths, with the shares bid up 0.5% to £15.03 by the close.

SMALLER CAP WRAP

Shares in cinema group Everyman Media (EMAN:AIM) rallied by 2.8% to 146p after it upgraded its outlook on performance following better-than-expected admissions in the first half of the year.

Customer relationship management software company Cerillion (CER:AIM) has more than doubled its annual profit as a result of a series of new business wins.

New orders rose by 43% to £33.3 million. For the year ended 30 September 2021, pre-tax profit rose 181% to £7.4 million as revenue increased 25% to £26.1 million. The shares moved ahead by 2.9% to 890p in response to the news.

Shares in Canadian Overseas Petroleum (COPL) gushed 14.3% higher to 24p after the company announced increased oil production at its Barron Flats asset in Wyoming.

Customer engagement software company Pelatro (PTRO:AIM) perked up 1.3% to 38.5p on news it has won a contract worth about $1 million from an unnamed African telco to provide its mViva campaign management solution.

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Issue Date: 22 Nov 2021