UK shares traded at their highest level since February 2020 on economic recovery hopes and higher commodity prices ahead of the closely-watched US jobs report at lunchtime.

The gains came as copper prices hit an all-time high, up more than a third this year, with iron ore and other metals also posting strong gains. Oil prices were also buoyant with Brent futures trading around $68 per barrel.

At midday the FTSE 100 index of leading shares was up 56 points or 0.8% to 7,132 led by miners, banks and industrials.

The advance would have been stronger were sterling not also advancing to $1.391 against the dollar, putting pressure on heavyweight consumer stocks with large overseas earnings.


Shares in property developer St. Modwen (SMP) jumped 20% in early trade 20% to 535p after it said it had received a non-binding proposal from funds managed by Blackstone regarding a possible cash offer of 542p per share, representing a 21.1% premium to the prior closing price.

The company said it was working with Blackstone to complete the required due diligence as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, shares in aerospace parts maker Meggitt (MGGT) climbed 9% to 500p on unconfirmed reports US rival Woodward Inc was preparing a bid for the UK firm.

In March, Megitt posted a 50% drop in operating profits for 2020 on the collapse of the civil aerospace market, but said it could return to profit growth in 2021 provided there were no new travel restrictions.

Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca (AZN) said a phase three trial of its lung cancer drug Imfinzi treated in combination with monoclonal antibody tremelimumab and chemotherapy demonstrated a progression-free survival benefit.

However, the combination of Imfinzi and chemotherapy combination didn’t show a statistically significant improvement in overall survival. The shares added 0.5% to £77.19.

InterContinental Hotels (IHG) said first quarter revenue per available room to 31 March was down 50.6% versus 2019, and down 33.7% versus 2020.

This reflected a 23% reduction in occupancy, with the rate sustained at about 80% of 2019 levels. The company said there was a notable pick-up in demand in March, particularly in the US and China, which continued into April. The shares put on 0.75% to £50.82.

British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) said first quarter passenger capacity was 19.6% of 2019 levels and continued to be impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.

This led to a reduced operating loss of €1.1 billion compared with €1.8 billion in 2020.

Plans for the second quarter capacity are running at around 25% of 2019 levels. Liquidity increased to €10.5 billion from €10.3 billion in the previous quarter driven by cost reductions and financing initiatives. The shares fell 0.6% to 205.7p.

Life sciences investment trust Syncona (SYNC) revealed that portfolio biotech company Gyroscope Therapeutics Holdings had put its plan to list on hold, sending Syncona shares down 6% to 223p.

Gyroscope said it had postponed its public offering 'in light of current market conditions'.


Shares in supplier of workplace and industrial products company Slingsby (SLNG:AIM) shot 50p or 23% higher to 285p after it reported a 225% increase in full year adjusted operating profit to £1.3 million.

Group sales increased by around 11% to £21.8 million driven by demand for coronavirus related products. The company also said first quarter revenues were 8% higher.

City stockbroker and corporate advisor Numis Corporation (NUM:AIM) reported an 82.9% increase in first-half revenues to £114.4 million and pre-tax profits up 438% to £39.3 million.

The company said its consistent focus on enhancing the firm's capabilities and strengthening client relationships had contributed to an excellent and broad-based first-half performance, and it had plenty of deals in the pipeline. Shares added 2.6% to 401p.


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Issue Date: 07 May 2021