UK stocks traded higher on Friday, buoyed by Brexit deal hopes and growing confidence that a US stimulus deal would be approved.

At midday the FTSE 100 was up 40 points or 0.7% to 6,018, lifted by buying across most sectors. Property stocks were well bid, along with miners and energy producers. Utilities and house builders were weaker after their recent out-performance.

Sterling was steady at $1.294 while Brent crude prices dipped 0.8% to $43 per barrel and gold gained 1% to $1,913 per ounce.

FTSE GAINERS

Aerospace firm Rolls Royce (RR.) was once again the star performer, climbing 19% to 232p to cap a doubling of the shares this week. US investment giant Capital Group, which manages $2 trillion in assets, has amassed an 8.7% holding in Rolls since last Friday.

British Land (BLND) led property shares higher after it said 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 382p.

The London Stock Exchange (LSE) confirmed 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 firmed 0.3% to £88.70.

MID-CAP MOVERS

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 fell 1.3% to 230p.

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 3% to 2315.

Pubs group Marston’s (MARS) surged 16% to 48p as investors toasted the news 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.

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 2.5% to 32p.

AIM WINNERS

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.

Online fashion retail firms Asos (ASC:AIM) and Boohoo (BOO:AIM) gained 3% each to £54.34 and 348p respectively after German rival Zalando raised earnings guidance for the year by more than 40% thanks to 'exceptionally strong' trading in the third quarter.

A FULL LIST OF FTSE MOVERS CAN BE SEEN HERE

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Issue Date: 09 Oct 2020