UK stocks have got off to a flyer this week with London’s FTSE 100 soaring 1.8% to 6,708.55 by lunchtime on Monday, buoyed by strength in the oil price and rising hopes for a vaccine-led economic recovery.
Brent crude oil futures are up 1.15% to $63.36 per barrel, with the boost in the commodity’s price helping FTSE stalwarts BP (BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) rise 2.6% to 268.5p and 3.8% to £13.49 respectively.
Meanwhile vaccine optimism also gripped investors as the UK met its mid-February target of offering 15 million jabs to those in the top four priority groups.
Vaccine bounce-back stocks such as TUI (TUI), the travel group, and picture house chain Cineworld (CINE) jumped 7.5% and 8.8%, to 341p and 81.4p respectively, as bargain-hunters used the benign market conditions to top up on the two potential post-lockdown winners.
In company news, pub group Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) climbed 7.3% to 352.5p, even as it announced an up to £350 million discounted share to help it weather the pandemic. The new shares would be offered at 210p each, a 36% discount to the company's closing price on Friday.
Mitchells & Butlers also agreed to a £150 million credit facility and debt covenant waivers with its banks, conditional on the equity raising being completed.
Aircraft engineer Rolls-Royce (RR.) advanced 2.4% to 95.1p following news that it had appointed Panos Kakoullis as its new chief financial officer, to replace Stephen Daintith. Kakoullis had spent most of his career at Deloitte, where he was, until May 2019, global head of its audit and assurance practice.
Telecom giant Vodafone (VOD) added 0.6% to 134.7p, having reaffirmed annual guidance for its Vantage Towers infrastructure business, which it is planning to spin off later this year. The unit’s underlying pro-forma earnings the 2021 financial year were still expected at between €520 million and €530 million, on revenue of €955 million-to-€970 million.
Fund management services provider JTC (JTC) rose 2.2% to 656p after it acquired alternative investment focused Indos for up to £12.5 million.
Consumer goods group UP Global Sourcing (UPGS), otherwise known as Ultimate Products, ticked up 0.7% to 145p on news that it had acquired German kitchen electrical brand Petra, for an undisclosed sum.
Ultimate Products said it planned to relaunch and refresh the Petra brand. The company was founded in 1968 in Bavaria and originally specialised in coffee machines.
Marketing and media consultancy Ebiquity (EBQ:AIM) jumped 8.4% to 20.8p, having guided for a ‘small’ annual loss after returning to profit in the second half.
Respiratory drug focused Synairgen (SNG:AIM) firmed 1.6% to 191p as it kicked off dosing for a sub-study investigating an inhaled treatment for mild-to-moderate Covid-19 symptoms, for patients not yet requiring hospitalisation.
The new study was in addition to an ongoing study assessing the efficacy of inhaled interferon beta in hospitalised patients with Covid-19.