UK stocks opened higher on Friday, buoyed by Brexit deal hopes and a US stimulus deal passing, and despite rising Covid-19 cases and worries of the introduction of further measures to restrict the spread of the virus.

Official data showed the UK economy growing at a slower than expected rate of 2.1% for the third quarter.

At 9am the FTSE 100 was 0.4% higher at 6,000 points.

In China the Shanghai SE Composite gained 1.6% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.1%. Brent Crude prices gained 0.4% to $43.5 a barrel while Gold was 0.9% higher at $1,910 an ounce.

CORPORATE NEWS

The London Stock Exchange (LSE) confirmed that it had agreed to sell its entire stake in Borsa Italiana to Euronext for €4.3 billion, plus an additional amount reflecting cash generation to completion.

The proposed sale, subjected to regulatory approvals and expected to close in the first half of 2021, came as the company said it expected that divestment of Borsa Italiana would be a condition to any European Commission's clearance for its proposed takeover of Refinitiv. Shares gained 0.9% to £89.2.

Inter-dealer broker TP ICAP (TCAP) said it had agreed to acquire global electronic trading network Liquidnet for up to $700 million with a further $125 million payable contingent on the revenue performance of Liquidnet's equities business over three years.

The company announced a fully-underwritten rights issue to raise around $425 million. Shares traded 2.7% higher to 239p.

Shares in Rolls Royce (RR.) flew 23% higher to 241p on Friday, capping a doubling of the shares this week. US investment manager Capital Group with $2 trillion in assets under management has amassed an 8.7% holding in Rolls since last Friday.

Waste management business Biffa (BIFF) announced the acquisition of Simply Waste Solutions, an industrial and commercial waste collection business in the south of England, for £35 million.

The deal will be funded from existing committed debt facilities. An earn-out of £5 million is contingent on performance of the business through to 31 March 2021.

For the year ending 31 March 2020, Simply Waste reported revenues of £32 million and operating profit of £3.1 million. Shares lifted 1.5% to 231p.

British Land (BLND) said that all its retail sites and 86% of stores were open and footfall was 21% ahead of the benchmark with retailer sales 90% of the same period last year. Collection rates for September were 69%, comprising 90% for offices and 50% for retail.

The company will resume dividend payments this November on the basis of paying out 80% of underlying earnings per share semi-annually. Shares gained 4% to 383p.

Pubs group Marston’s (MARS) said the £780 million proposed joint-venture with Carlsberg had been cleared by UK competition regulators and the transaction would now complete at the end of October. Investors toasted the news, pushing the shares up 4% to 43p.

Russian gold miner Petropavlosk (POG) said it expected full-year production to be below previous guidance due to lower than expected grades and logistical issues impacted by Covid-19. It confirmed that interim accounts will be published for the period ended June in the second half of October. Shares fell 3.4% to 31.6p.

Manufacturer and supplier of ventilation systems Titon Holdings (TON:AIM) said it saw a strong fourth quarter recovery after the manufacturing suspension in March. The group expects full-year revenues to 30 September to decline 23% to around £21 million. Shares gained 5.5% to 86p.

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Issue Date: 09 Oct 2020