UK stocks started Friday’s session on a positive note with the FTSE 100 index trading up as much as 35 points or 0.5% to a new high for the year of 7,242 points.

'Anyone with an interest in charts should note the FTSE 100 has seen a breakout and is now trading at a higher level than at any of its closing prices year to date', observed AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

The strong finish to the week followed a positive overnight performance in the US, where the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite both closed up 1.7%, and in Asia where markets also ended the session in positive territory.

Oil prices continued to gain with Brent crude futures almost touching $85 per barrel, causing major headaches for energy-intensive businesses.

Sterling also firmed against the dollar to hit $1.3720, adding to the headwinds facing companies which rely on exports.

COMPANY NEWS

Shares in banking group HSBC (HSBA) rose 1.8% to 432p in response to analysts at Barclays and Bank of America raising their price targets on the stock.

In a third quarter product update, mining leviathan Rio Tinto (RIO) reduced its guidance for iron ore shipments, sending shares lower by 1.64% to 5027.00p in early trading.

A tight labour market and supply chain issues have delayed the completion of a new greenfield mine at its Pilbara site in Australia. Guidance for Pilbara iron ore shipments was reduced to 320 to 325 million tonnes from 325 million to 340 million tonnes, while refined copper guidance was reduced to 190,000 to 210,000 tonnes from 210,000 to 250,000 tonnes.

The company also posted an update on third-quarter production showing production at Pilbara fell 4% to 83.3 million tonnes, while shipments were up 2% to 71.1 million tonnes year-on-year.

Shares in pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) drifted 0.2% lower to £87.99 despite confirmation that a late-stage trial for its liver cancer drug had met its primary goal, demonstrating a 'statistically significant and clinically meaningful' overall survival benefit.

Education publisher Pearson (PSON) reported a 10% increase in underlying profit for the nine months to September and said it was on target to meet full year expectations.

It also said two million people had registered for its new American learning app. Despite this, the shares drifted 3.1% lower to 706p

Shares in asset manager Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) jumped by 1.8% to 244p after the group reported an increase in assets under management as positive investment performance offset net outflows.

For the three months to September, assets under management increased by £0.4bn to £60.7bn, despite weaker client demand for UK and European equity strategies coupled with net redemptions from mutual funds which resulted in net outflows of £569 million.

Property firm Land Securities (LAND) said it had collected 85% of rent in respect of the September 2021 quarter, up from 81% at the same stage for the June quarter. Shares were flat at 698p.

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Issue Date: 15 Oct 2021