European stock markets were higher across the board on Tuesday on speculation in Washington that President Trump could introduce a capital gains tax cut to create jobs, and signs that some of the US states hit hardest by the coronavirus such as California and Texas were seeing fewer hospitalisations.

UK stocks even shrugged off the latest employment data which showed the number of people in work in the three months through June fell by 220,000, the biggest quarterly decline since the global financial crisis over a decade ago.

By 9.15am the FTSE 100 index had jumped 100 points or 1.65% to 6,150, led by firms reporting earnings and by selected travel and leisure stocks.

Crude oil prices continued to creep higher with Brent futures gaining 0.8% to $45.36 per barrel while gold dipped back below the $2,000 per ounce level as traders took profits after its strong run.

Online trading platform Plus500 Limited (PLUS) soared 8.6% to £13.60 after the firm reported first half pre-tax earnings of $363.2 million compared with $63.9 million the previous year as revenues more than tripled from $148 million to $564.2 million.

The company declared an interim dividend of $0.95 or 72.6p per share, more than three times the year-ago level, and said it would buy back up to $57.3 million or £43.8 million of its shares.

Shares in Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) gained 3.5% to £41.38 even as the firm missed forecasts with its first half results and cancelled its interim dividend.

For the six months to 30 June revenues fell 45% to $11.2 billion, worse than expected after revenues per available room (RevPAR) fell 75% in the second quarter, and the firm posted a pre-tax loss of $275 million compared with a profit of $375 million in the first six months of last year.

House builder Bellway (BWY) also ditched its interim dividend as sales for the year to 31 July fell due to lockdown. The company sold 7,522 new homes over the period compared with 10,892 the previous year, with an average selling price little changed at £293,000. Shares traded down 0.8% to £25.44 after the update.

Shares in Domino’s Pizza (DOM) slid 2.2% to 318p even as the firm delivered a 13.5% rise in first half operating profits to £45.8 million and reinstated its dividend.

Domino’s said system sales for the six months to the end of June were up 5.5% to £628.9 million thanks to a jump in online orders in the second quarter. The firm said it would pay its deferred 2019 final dividend of 5.56p per share next month after it had seen an ‘encouraging’ start to the second half.


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Issue Date: 11 Aug 2020