With a boost from mining and energy stocks, London’s FTSE 100 finished Friday’s trading session 0.37% to the good at 7,234.03 points, pulling back from an intra-day pandemic-era peak despite a strong open on Wall Street.

In the face of a barrage of media coverage surrounding price hikes and supply logjams, the more domestically focused FTSE 250 index still managed to end the week on a high, edging ahead 0.54% to 22,984.24.

Airlines were in demand with investors, with International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) lifted 3.2% to 183p and sector peers EasyJet (EZJ), Jet2 (JET2:AIM) and Wizz Air (WIZZ) also on the rise.

This followed clarity from the UK Government on relaxing some of the rules for travellers around testing, with anyone returning to England able to take cheaper lateral flow tests from 24 October. That news could trigger a flurry of last-minute flight bookings for half-term.

PEARSON PLUNGES

Education publisher Pearson (PSON) reported a 10% increase in underlying profit for the nine months to September and said it was on target to meet full year expectations. It also said two million people had registered for its new American learning app.

Despite this, the shares plunged 15% to 619.8p as investors didn’t like news of weakness in US community college enrolments, following a surge in Covid cases in the back to school period and because of strengthening in the US jobs market.

IN OTHER NEWS

Shares in banking group HSBC (HSBA) rose 1.8% to 433.8p in response to analysts at Barclays and Bank of America raising their price targets on the stock.

In a third quarter production update, mining leviathan Rio Tinto (RIO) reduced its guidance for iron ore shipments, sending shares lower by 1.4% to £50.38.

Shares in pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) drifted 0.4% lower to £87.83 despite confirmation that a late-stage trial for its liver cancer drug had met its primary goal, demonstrating a ‘statistically significant and clinically meaningful’ overall survival benefit.

Shares in asset manager Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) jumped 3.7% to 248.4p after the group reported an increase in assets under management as positive investment performance offset net outflows.

For the three months to September, assets under management increased by £0.4 billion to £60.7 billion, despite weaker client demand for UK and European equity strategies coupled with net redemptions from mutual funds which resulted in net outflows of £569 million.

Property firm Land Securities (LAND) edged 2% higher to 711.6p after saying it had collected 85% of rent in respect of the September 2021 quarter, up from 81% at the same stage for the June quarter.

Buyers were out in force for international private healthcare group Mediclinic (MDC) after the company flagged a ‘material recovery’ in profit margins.

First half revenues also moved ahead of pre-pandemic levels, the company added, revealing a 12% increase in revenues, news that saw the share price jump 12.25% to 346.4p.

Shares in The Mercantile Investment Trust (MRC) were marked up 1.5% to 265.5p after the small and mid cap-focused fund announced a benchmark-beating first half performance.

Fund managers Guy Anderson and Anthony Lynch insisted they are sticking with their positive outlook too, though they anticipate the pace of economic growth will moderate.

Meanwhile specialist kitchenware brand ProCook announced that it is considering an initial public offering on the main market.

The company, which sells directly to customers through its own website and operates a growing portfolio of UK retail stores, saw sales grow 37% to £53.4 million in the year ending 4 April 2021, with adjusted EBITDA surging 246% higher to £13.3 million in the same period.

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Issue Date: 15 Oct 2021