London’s FTSE 100 jumped towards that all-important 7,000 mark on Thursday following strong economic data from the US, while pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) also helped the index with a big rise after reports that an activist investor has built up a stake in the business.

The UK’s benchmark index closed 0.63% higher to 6,983.50, with investors closely watching to see if can finally claw its way above the 7,000 level for the first time since the pandemic struck.

It’s a landmark level, if only in the minds of investors, but breaking back above that level would be positive for the UK market zeitgeist.

Helping sentiment was positive news from the US which showed retail sales jumped 9.8% in March while unemployment claims dropped, sending the S&P 500 and Dow Jones to record highs.

GlaxoSmithKline shares surged almost 5% to £13.53 after the Financial Times reported that activist investor Elliott Management has built up a ‘significant’ stake in the business. GlaxoSmithKline is set to separate its consumer health business from its pharmaceutical and vaccine division.

DELIVEROO ORDERS SOAR

Food delivery firm Deliveroo (ROO) said orders more than doubled in the quarter to 31 March in its first trading update since its highly-anticipated listing in London last month flopped.

Growth accelerated for the fourth consecutive quarter, the company said, with group orders up 114% year-on-year to 71 million and gross transaction value up 130% year-on-year to £1.65 billion.

But casting off the hangover from the IPO disappointment will take time, with the stock slipping 3.3% to 261.3p, around 30% below its 390p float price.

Online white goods seller AO World (AO.) rose 1.9% to 323.6p after it said it expected to report annual adjusted profit in line with market expectations following a strong final quarter to the fiscal year.

For the year ended 31 March 2021, adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation is expected to be in the range £63 million to £72 million, up from £19.6 million and in line with market consensus of about £66 million.

Sports-betting and gaming entertainment company Entain (ENT) gained 1.1% to £16.24 after making a ‘strong’ start to the year, with online gaming revenue rising by 33% in the first quarter of the year.

Total revenue for the quarter fell 13%, weighed down by its retail business, which was ‘significantly impacted by Covid restrictions with almost all shops entirely closed for the quarter,’ the company said.

ELSEWHERE ON THE MARKET

Analytics and eCommerce optimisation company Ascential (ASCL) fell 0.6% to 353p after acquiring Toronto-based Perpetua Labs, an eCommerce media optimisation business, for an initial $52 million.

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) closed almost flat at £13.64 after saying it has prepared its Energy Transition Strategy publication, designed to bring the company’s energy products, services, and investments in line with the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement, for submission to a shareholder advisory vote. The AGM, which will be webcast, is scheduled for 18 May 2021.

In the FTSE 250, cell and gene therapy group Oxford Biomedica (OXB) edged 0.2% higher to £10.42 after reporting total revenues increase by 37% to £87.7 million in the year ending 31 December 2020.

Budget airline Wizz Air (WIZZ) gained 0.8% to £49.06 as it expects to report a net loss of €570 million to €590 million and a full year underlying loss of €475 million to €495 million for full year 2021, with the low cost carrier continuing to battle the impact of the pandemic and ongoing uncertainty regarding travel restrictions.

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Issue Date: 15 Apr 2021