The FTSE 100 finished the final trading session of January broadly flat, off 0.02% at 7,464.37 points in fact, while the FTSE 250 edged up 1.3% to 21,926.62, as many investors and traders sat on their hands ahead of the Bank of England’s Monetary policy Committee meeting on Thursday and awaited earnings from Alphabet and Amazon across the pond.

In the FTSE 100, investment trust Scottish Mortgage (SMT), which invests in US tech stocks, rallied 5% to £10.79, tracking a rise in the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index, while UK telecoms titan Vodafone (VOD) improved 1.9% to 130p after it was targeted by Sweden-based activist investor fund Cevian.

CORPORATE NEWS

Educational publisher and services group Pearson (PSON) has acquired digital credentials and certifications company Credly.

Strategically the deal extends Pearson’s presence in the workforce skills sector, bringing together workforce analytics, learning, assessment and credentialing services.

The purchase price, including Pearson’s existing 20% stake, represented a total value for the business of $200 million.

The market reacted positively to the news marking the shares up 1.5% to 615.2p.

UK food producer Cranswick (CWK) said it had acquired Grove Pet Foods, a dry dog food producer, for an undisclosed sum.

Cranswick believe the combined business would be a beneficiary of vertical integration opportunities within its poultry and pork business.

The shares edged 1% higher to £36.64 on the news.

AROUND THE MARKET

Online estate agency firm Purplebricks (PURP:AIM) blamed a challenging period for a loss of £800,000 compared to last year’s adjusted earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation of £8.4 million.

Revenues during the six months to 31 October 2021 declined 7% to £41.3 million. An operating loss of £11.1 million, compared to a prior year profit of £6.9 million. The shares moved 3% higher to 20.6p on the news.

Car retailer Lookers (LOOK) motored 4.75% higher to 93p on the news Cinch-to-Webuyanycar owner Constellation Automotive has taken a 19.9% stake in the business.

Constellation, which is in the process of buying Marshall Motor (MMH:AIM), has indicated its support for Looker’s recently outlined strategy and senior management.

Specialist marketing firm Next Fifteen Communications (NFC:AIM) gained 13.4% to £12.30 as it upgraded expectations for the year to 31 January 2022 after a strong fourth quarter performance.

Data technology company Wandisco (WAND) strutted 13.8% higher to 320p after it announced a ‘deepening’ of its strategic partnership with Oracle to provide its ‘LiveData Migrator’ product to both Oracle and its customers.

Troubled Studio Retail (STU) slumped 35% to 103p after the online value retailer warned it is exploring options to meet a ‘short-term working capital funding requirement’, having over-committed to buying stock against a difficult backdrop of global supply chain disruption.

The online value retailer also downgraded earnings guidance for the second time in three months due to the impact of ‘market-wide shipping issues’ and muted post-Christmas demand.

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Issue Date: 31 Jan 2022