The UK’s leading shares had made decent gains after a slow start in relatively quiet trading on Friday with traders keeping their powder dry ahead of the latest US employment data. But concerns over a recent jump in coronavirus infections outweighed reopening optimism and kept the index on course for a muted weekly showing.

At 9am, the benchmark FTSE 100 had moved 0.46% higher to 7,158.11 with homebuilders gaining the most, up 1.6%. Consumer heavyweights Reckitt Benckiser (RB.), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Unilever (ULVR) were the top boost to the index, according to weightings data from Reuters.

Homebuilders Barratt Developments (BDEV), Persimmon (PSON) and Taylor Wimpey (TW.) all featured among the leading FTSE 100 risers with gains running between 1.5% and 2%.

UK Banks were the biggest drag, with Standard Chartered (STAN), HSBC (HSBA) and Lloyds (LLOY) taking the top three slots on the FTSE 100 loser board, albeit with modest sub1% declines across the board.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 added 0.37% at 22,707.44 with homebuilders Bellway (BWY) and Crest Nicholson (CRST) topping the leaderboard – up nearly 3% a piece at £33.94 and 439.6p respectively – continuing the property theme seen among blue-chips.

Both indexes are set to end the week largely flat as a jump in coronavirus infections countered reopening optimism and robust corporate earnings during the week.

Globally, sentiment was strong as shares held near record highs as investors looked to US. jobs data for signs of balanced economic growth with tame inflationary pressure. The close-watched non-farm payroll numbers will be published at 12.30pm UK time.

JD Sports Fashion (JD.) made early modest gains, up 0.4% at 973p, despite revealing after the close yesterday that the chair of its remuneration committee would leave the board following a shareholder rebellion over management pay at Britain's biggest sportswear retailer.

COMPANY NEWS WRAP

Building materials distributor group Grafton (GFTU) said it had completed the previously announced acquisition of Isojoen Konehalli and Jokapaikka on 1 July 2021.

Omega Diagnostics (ODX:AIM), the medical diagnostics company focused on infectious diseases and food intolerance, has announced that its technology partner Mologic has filed a submission to the US Food and Drug Administration for its rapid point-of-care Covid-19 antigen test.

Drug discovery company E-therapeutics (ETX:AIM) said Friday that it has met a key milestone in its collaboration with Galapagos NV, paving the way for the company to receive a milestone payment.

Staying in the healthcare space, pharmaceutical company Diurnal (DNL:AIM) added 1% to 64.9p after saying that the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has granted a marketing authorisation to the company's hydrocortisone capsules to treat adult and adolescent patients suffering with congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

Computer games maker Team17 (TM17:AIM) rallied 3.5% to 955p after announcing that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the business and assets of StoryToys, via the acquisition of its parent company TouchPress.

Super yacht maintenance company GYG (GYG:AIM) said it extended the deadline again to grant Harwood Capital more time to conduct due diligence concerning a potential offer for the company. The share price stayed flat at 86p.

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Issue Date: 02 Jul 2021