UK markets began trading very slowly on what will be a US-free Friday session because of the Independence Day holiday, with company news typically light on the ground.
This followed a firm rally for Asian shares overnight on robust US payrolls data and a brisk pickup in Chinese service sector activity, but a surge in coronavirus cases in the United States kept a lid on stronger gains.
But the gloom soon descended, sending the export-heavy FTSE 100 sliding 0.7% to 6,193.01 despite data that showed China’s services sector expanded at its fastest pace in over a decade last month. Final figures on the UK's services sector for June are due later in the day, which could hod the direction keys for investors.
The mid-cap FTSE 250 limited headway itself, largely flat at 17,366.42424.85, with financial, real estate, and construction sectors among the early advancers.
Travel-related firms gained for a third straight day as Britain’s government said it would lift quarantine rules for people arriving in England from countries including Germany, France, Spain and Italy from 10 July.
SHOPPING CENTRES BOUNCE
Property landlord Land Securities (LAND) was among the bigger FTSE 100 risers on Friday, adding nearly 2.5% to 588.6p, after it said like-for-like sales at its shopping centres was at 80% of the level achieved last year in the two weeks since non-essential retail reopened in England.
Mining company Rio Tinto (RIO) shed 0.9% to £45.035, having warned of increased costs, delays and reserves downgrades owing to a redesign of its huge Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project in Mongolia.
Bingo hall and casino group Rank (RNK) gained 1.8% to 147.6p, even as it warned that its annual profit would be at the bottom end of its guidance range, due to costs associated with reopening its venues.
Rank would start reopening Mecca bingo venues in England from Saturday, but said some may not open again, pending an assessment of the viability of 12 sites.
FINANCE IN FOCUS
British lender Amigo (AMGO) said on Friday it had extended a deadline with the Financial Conduct Authority to deal with a backlog of customer complaints and set aside more money to settle them.
It now has until October to sort out the mess although clearing the backlog will mean ‘substantially higher’ costs than the previous estimate of at least £35 million.
Still, investors welcomed the extra clarity and breathing space, sending the share price soaring 50% to 4.22p, valuing the business at around £60 million.
Online contracts-for-difference brokerage CMC Markets (CMCX) jumped 13% to 318.72p on announcing that it expected its performance to beat market expectations as solid client trading activity continued in the first quarter.
Broker and investment bank Numis (NUM:AIM) firmed 2.6% to 320p after revealing that its quarterly revenue had increased materially compared to the previous two quarters.
Litigation financing group Manolete Partners (MANO:AIM) rallied 10% to 560p, having posted a 59% rise in annual profit and doubled its dividend after it boosted its insolvency case load.
Plastic and fibre products maker Essentra (ESNT) leapt 6% to 310p despite seeing its’ like-for-like revenue slump 9% in the first half.
Essentra, however, said it expected an improving sales trend seen in the second quarter to continue into the third.
SMALL CAP WRAP
Renewable energy asset investor Octopus Renewables (ORIT) stayed flat at 112.2p after it reaffirmed its dividend guidance, citing visibility of contracted revenue and its investment pipeline.
Footwear retailer Shoe Zone (SHOE:AIM) was unchanged at 78p as it announced that finance director Jonathan Fearn had resigned and would be replaced by Peter Foot.
Telematics group Trakm8 (TRAK:AIM) soared 30% to 22p on sealing a fleet optimisation contract with a 'major UK food retailer' that had been expected in March but was delayed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
UPDATE: An earlier version this story incorrectly stated that Mr Foot at Shoe Zone previously worked at British Sugar and Associated British Foods. We apologise for the error.