The FTSE rallied 1.3% higher to 5,817.74 points on Friday after two days of losses as China reported its first rise in factory output so far in 2020, giving a boost to oil and mining shares.

BP (BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) traded almost 2% higher, while Anglo American (AAL) was 4% ahead and Rio Tinto (RIO) was up 3%.

The midcap index was also strongly higher, up 1.4% to 15,625.9 points.

In overnight trading shares in Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.6% higher and the Korean market was 0.8% higher, while China’s SSE Composite was flat.

Brent oil prices traded 3% higher at $28.7 per barrel and the Gold price was slightly higher at $1,735 an ounce. The pound was 0.2% lower against the US dollar at $1.22.

CORPORATE NEWS

In a brief trading update, bus and train company National Express (NEX) said its revenue in April had slumped about 50%, though it added the fall was in line with its recent guidance.

The company, however, said it generated positive operating earnings, slightly ahead of its expectations, thanks to cuts to monthly operating cost of around £100m and government support. The shares accelerated 10% to 192p.

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (SMT) delivered a 13.7% increase in net asset value for the year ended 31 March compared with a 6.2% fall in the FTSE All-World index. The board said it was business as usual for them as it benefited from scale and low costs. The shares were 1.7% higher at 693p.

International owner and operator of wholesale power generation, Contour Global (GLO) posted a strong first-quarter with revenues up 24% to $356m and operating income 24% higher to $76m.

The company reiterated full-year guidance for adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in the range of $710m to $745m and to maintain the dividend policy of a 10% increase. The shares traded 1% higher at 156p.

Technology company Computacenter (CCC) raced 10% ahead to £14.7 after it said sales volumes would be 'considerably ahead' in the first half of 2020, as sales momentum had continued amid increased demand.

Since its previous update in April, the company said business had accelerated further and it had secured some substantial technology sourcing contracts due to its ability to scale its operations to meet the demand.

Gambling company William Hill (WMH) said its revenue had dropped 27% for the 17 weeks to 28 April, accelerating to 57% in the last four weeks, due to the cancellation of live sporting events due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

William Hill said its covenants on its revolving credit facility had been waived for 2020 and reset for 2021, and actions taken had reduced monthly cash burn to £15m a month, while it had access to total liquidity in excess of £700m. The shares were 5% higher at 112p.

Aviation services provider Signature Aviation (SIG) said it had seen an uptick in flying activity in the first half of May, though business was still down substantially due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Flying activity for the first 13 days of May had shown an on-year decline of 66%, though that was better than the 77% drop recorded for April.

The company said it was cash-flow positive by $6m during the month of April, with total facility headroom and cash at the end of the month of $425m. The shares flew 3% higher to 190.6p.

Online fashion company Boohoo (BOO:AIM) confirmed it had raised £197.7m by selling new shares at 340p per share, around 5% of the existing capital. The funds will be used to make opportunistic acquisitions.

Price comparison site Moneysupermarket.com (MONY) said it had appointed Peter Duffy as its new chief executive to succeed Mark Lewis, who's pending departure was announced in February. The shares nudged up 0.4% to 316.5p.

Shares in point-of-care diagnostics company EKF Diagnostics (EKF:AIM) jumped 14% higher to 47p after saying it was increasing its manufacturing capacity significantly to meet demand for its FDA-approved sample collection device, which allows safe transport of pathogens.

EKF expects to deliver revenues of at least £25m for the six-months ended 30 June.

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Issue Date: 15 May 2020