The FTSE 100 surged 1.6% to 5,956.50 by lunchtime on Wednesday, driven by increased optimism over the strength of economic recovery and the potential for a coronavirus vaccine this year.

It comes as a report from Nationwide Building Society showed a strong recovery in the housing market and said UK house prices increased by the most in 16 years, stoked by cut to stamp duty. Values rose 2% from a month earlier to an average of £224,123.

While health secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons a coronavirus vaccine could be available this year, with the law changed to fast track approval before Christmas.

In company news, housebuilder Barratt Developments (BDEV) reported a 28% fall in revenues and a 45% drop in pre-tax profits to £492 million for the year ended 30 June. The pandemic impacted business in the fourth quarter leading to a suspension of activity which led to a 29% fall in completions.

The shares jumped 8% higher to 543p.

IT SERVICES FIRM UPGRADE

A profit upgrade from information technology infrastructure company Computercenter (CCC) gave the shares a 13.2% boost to £22.82 after management said full-year results to 31 December would be materially ahead of expectations. Computacenter said it would release its interim results next Wednesday

Workwear rentals group Johnson Service Group (JSG) reported interim losses of £12.6 million compared with a profit of £20 million last year as revenues fell by a third to £115 million, impacted by the closure of its hospitality plants during lockdown. The dividend was passed, saving around £8 million. The shares gained 4% to 108p.

Budget airline Ryanair (RYA) said it carried 53% fewer passengers in August as the Covid-19 crisis continued to hurt travel markets.

Passenger volumes for the month dropped to 7 million, down from 14.9 million in August 2019, on a load factor of 73%, as it operated at around 60% of its normal schedule. The shares nudged up 1.2% to €11.98.

Fellow low-cost Hungarian based carrier Wizz Air (WIZZ) said it flew 41% less passengers in August, though the drop was shallower than in previous months as some travel restrictions in Europe were eased.

Passenger volumes for the month dropped to 2.4 million compared to 4 million in August 2019, with a load factor down 25 percentage points to 70.9%. The shares fell 1.76% to £36.76.

SMALL CAP WRAP

Specialist wealth manager and employee benefits group Mattioli Woods (MTW:AIM) posted a 37% rise in annual profit after costing cutting helped boost margins and revenue inched higher.

Pre-tax profit for the year through May increased to £13.4 million, up from £9.8 million last year, as revenue rose 1.6% to £58.4 million. The trimmed final dividend of 12.7p per share, was reduced from 13.67p, giving a total dividend for the year of 20.0p, which was flat year-on-year. The shares fell 1% to 695.5p.

African diagnostics services provider Integrated Diagnostics Holdings (IDHC:AIM) reported half-year revenues down 10% to 950 million Egyptian pounds and net profit down 19% to 175 million Egyptian pounds on impacted by lockdowns and curfews. The shares traded 12.5% higher at $3.60

The Gym Group (GYM) reported interim pre-tax losses of £27 million, compared with a profit of £5.6 million last year as revenue fell to £37.3 million from £74 million.

As at 31 August 2020, total membership was 676,000 members, up from 658,000 as at 25 July, prior to the first gyms re-opening. That was down from the 891,000 members prior to lockdown.

The shares drifted 0.3% lower to 156p.

Foreign currency and payments group Alpha FX (AFX:AIM) reported interim revenues up 16% to £18 million and underlying operating profits down 9% to £6.1 million after making a £0.5 million provision for bad debts.

The operating margin fell to 34% from 43% last year reflecting investments made to support the continuing growth of the business. The shares gained 3.3% to 920p.

Shopping centre investor Hammerson (HMSO) was, with at face value, up 363.8% to 208.7p. The huge move actually reflected a one-for-five share consolidation, meaning that shareholders will now have one share for every five they previously owned.

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Issue Date: 02 Sep 2020