UK stocks opened higher on Monday following rises on Asian exchanges and in the oil price, as the global Covid-19 vaccine rollout gained momentum and US lawmakers closed in on a stimulus deal.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 0.24% at 6,504.57 points early on, with BP (BP.) gaining 1.4% to 255.6p and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) up 0.4% to £13.51 after Brent crude prices hit $60 a barrel.

CORPORATE NEWS

In corporate news, Experian (EXPN) cheapened 1.9% to £25.87 as investors fretted over a potential data breach.

However, the credit reporting company insisted there is no evidence that its technology systems had been compromised following reports media reports concerning data illegally offered for sale on the internet in Brazil.

Online fast fashion retailer Boohoo (BOO:AIM) softened 4.2% to 350p after it acquired the online assets including customer data of the Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis brands from Arcadia’s administrators for £25.2 million in cash.

Manchester-headquartered Boohoo insists the acquisition will extend its market share ‘across a broader demographic, capitalising on growth opportunities as more and more customers shop online’.

Yet shares in Boohoo and other retailers including ASOS (ASC:AIM), Dunelm (DNLM) and AO World (AO.) were marked down on talk that chancellor Rishi Sunak wants to impose an extra tax on companies which have prospered during the pandemic.

Power generator Drax (DRX) firmed 0.7% to 390p following news that it agreed to acquire biomass group Pinnacle Renewable Energy for around £226 million.

Drax said the deal would more than double its biomass production capacity, significantly reducing production costs.

ANOTHER UPGRADE FOR UPGS

Consumer goods brand owner UP Global Sourcing (UPGS) skipped 7.7% higher to 145.5p as yet another positive trading statement, with sales up 11.4% to £75.4 million for the six months to January 2021, triggered a fresh round of earnings upgrades.

The online and supermarket channels performed ‘particularly well’ in the first six months’, while laundry, floor care, heating and cooling brand Beldray once again proved the ‘standout performer’, said UP Global Sourcing.

Given the momentum in its order book, UP Global Sourcing now expects full year underlying pre-tax profits will be ‘in excess of £10.3 million’, prompting Shore Capital to upgrade its forecast by 5% to £10.4 million.

Industrial and electronics products maker Electrocomponents (ECM) was off 1% at 928p despite reporting like-for-like revenue growth of 8% for the four months through January and keeping its annual outlook unchanged despite ongoing heightened freight, labour and logistical costs.

Electrocomponents left its full year profit expectations were unchanged with ‘stronger revenue growth offset by additional ongoing costs’.

Cloud platform group LoopUp (LOOP:AIM) advanced 0.6% to 78.5p on confirming that it expected to report higher annual revenue and core earnings for 2020.

Disease test-kit supplier Omega Diagnostics (ODX:AIM) rallied 23% to 85.5p after confirming it was upscaling its manufacturing capabilities, while acknowledging a media report that it had been selected by the UK government to produce Covid-19 rapid tests.

Molecular diagnostics group Yourgene Health (YGEN:AIM) slumped 8.5% to 12.1p after it warned that it would fall short of its previous revenue forecasts, citing the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on ordering patterns.

Caribbean and Atlantic margin focused oil and gas company Bahamas Petroleum (BPC:AIM) slumped 73% to 0.56p on the news commercial volumes of oil have not been proven at its Perseverance #1 well in the Bahamas, which will now be plugged and abandoned.

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Issue Date: 08 Feb 2021