UK equity markets continued to trade in positive territory on Wednesday, as market fears regarding the potential economic impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant continued to abate.

In addition, a distinctly positive showing from all of the American equity markets provided further positive momentum.

Markets eagerly awaited the Department of Labour’s publication of the JOLTS labour market survey. This will provide some additional granularity regarding the true nature of the American jobs market, and comes after a lukewarm reception to the most recent non-farm payrolls print.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index moved 0.47% higher to 7374.17, and the mid-cap FTSE 250 improved 0.54% to 23,362.94.

MARKET MOVERS

Shares in housebuilder Berkeley (BKG) rose 2.2% to £46.35 after the company increased its medium term guidance. It anticipates 5% growth in profit over the next four years (including the current year).

For the six months ended 31 October, pre-tax profit rose by 26% to £290.7 million year-on-year as revenue increased 36.3% to £1.22 billon. Revenue was boosted by a rise in sales to 1,828 homes, up from 1,104, at an average selling price of £647,000, down from £799,000.

Travel company TUI (TUI) has revealed that winter capacity is ‘likely’ to be reduced to the bottom end of the 60-80% range due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The group has succeeded in reducing fourth-quarter losses after an easing of pandemic restrictions boosted sales. Revenue jumped to €3.37 billion, up from €1.23 billion, while underlying operating losses narrowed substantially to €97 million.

Pre-tax losses for the three months through September amounted to €71 million, compared to year-on-year losses of €836 million. Shares fell by 5.7% to 205p.

Shares in fantasy miniatures maker Games Workshop (GAW) slumped by 7.4% to £90.36 after it announced a decline in pre-tax profits for the six months to 28 November.

Pre-tax profit is expected to be no less than £86 million, compared with £91.6 million last year, while sales are expected to be at least £190 million, compared with £186.8 million last year.

Dividends declared in the period were 100p per share, up from 80p last year.

Fund management company Man Group (EMG) jumped 4.2% to 224.9p after announcing detailed plans to buy back shares up to a value of $250 million.

The share buyback programme will run from 8 December 2021 through to 7 December 2022.

SMALL CAP NEWS

Shares in fintech payments group Equals (EQLS:AIM) jumped 9.2% after the group reported results that ‘significantly’ exceeded full-year expectations as a ‘material’ international payments transaction for a large corporate client bolstered growth.

For the period from 1 October 2021 to 6 December 2021, revenue rose 105% to £11.6 million year-on-year.

‘This robust trading performance of the group further underpins the board’s confidence in accelerating momentum and maintaining growth moving into the final days of 2021 and into FY-2022,’ the company said.

And fast-fashion brand Quiz (QUIZ:AIM) rallied 3.3% to 19p after the retailer reported a first half sales rebound and a return to profitability at the underlying EBITDA level, as the return of social events boosted demand for its products.

However, Quiz also warned the emergence of the Omicron variant is a concern and the potential for Christmas and other social events to be disrupted or cancelled ‘would be expected to negatively impact short term demand’.

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Issue Date: 08 Dec 2021