London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6% to 6,179 on Thursday, an 11-week high, driven by early signs of a pick-up in business sentiment fuelled by hopes of a post lockdown economic rebound. The mid-cap index was 0.7% higher at 17,262.
Shares were higher across Asia overnight with Japan’s Nikkei 225 2.3% up and the China’s SSE composite 0.3% ahead, while the tensions in Hong Kong pushed stocks there 0.7% lower after the US said it couldn’t certify its independence, adding to trade tensions.
Brent Crude prices were 3.2% lower at $31.7 dollars a barrel while Gold was 0.5% higher at $1,720 an ounce. The pound was flat against the US dollar at $1.23 cents.
Budget airline EasyJet (EZY) said it expected to cut its workforce by up to 30%, putting around 4,500 jobs at risk, after the company sought to reduce the size of its fleet. It warned demand would likely only return to pre-pandemic levels in about three years.
The company also said that capacity for the fourth quarter of this year would be well below that of last year. The shares flew 3.75% higher to 737p.
Shares in bus and train operator Stagecoach (SGC) raced 4% ahead to 69p after it announced a significant increase in available liquidity to over £800m due to positive cash flow and new borrowing capacity. It too warned of a lasting effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel patterns.
The company estimated that its adjusted earnings per share for the year ended 2 May 2020 will be between 12.5p and 14.0p, and reported that commercial sales at its local regional bus operating companies are now at around 17% of prior year levels.
Fellow bus operator FirstGroup (FGP) said its roads division had generated more cash than expected in April, the first month of the new financial year, prompting it to increase its bus services offering following additional funding from the government.
At 26 May the group had undrawn headroom and free cash flow was stable at £770m. The shares were 7% higher at 60.7p.
Heat treatment and thermal services company Bodycoat (BOY) said business outside of China has been severely impacted by the lockdowns, especially in automotive and civil aerospace leading to a 12% fall in revenues to £216m for the period ended 30 April. The shares moved 5.6% higher to 623.5p.
Shares in global workspace provider IWG (IWG) were in demand, bid up 15% to 300p after the company said it has successfully raised £320m by issuing 133.9m new shares at 239p. Chief executive Mark Dixon participated by subscribing for shares worth around £91.3m.
Cineworld has also increased its December 2020 covenant test to 9 times net debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) and agreed terms for an additional $110m of credit facilities. The shares are around 5.5 times higher than the 20.6p March lows.
Payments group Paypoint (PAY) reported annual underlying revenue up by 4.1% to £120.7m, which was driven by a 10.5% growth in UK retail services, a resilient performance in UK bill payments and top-ups which grew by 0.3% and growth of 5.5% in Romania.
The company announced it is recommending a final dividend of 15.6 pence per share. The shares traded 8% higher at 779p.
Fryer services group Filta (FLTA:AIM) reported full year revenues up 25% to £11.7m for the period ended 31 December and pre-tax profit up 7% to £2.6m. The board has not recommended paying the final dividend in light of uncertainty caused by the pandemic. The shares put on 4.7% to 111.5p.