Share prices were rising midday Thursday in London, as just-good-enough results from Meta Platforms restored faith in the US technology sector. Meanwhile, the dollar was on the rise against the pound and yen.

Updates from big tech have been mixed - with Alphabet reporting a first-quarter earnings decline on Tuesday and Netflix massively underwhelming last week - so the market had been bracing for disappointing numbers from the Facebook parent. Instead, Meta said user numbers were up.

Now, all eyes will be on Apple and Amazon when they report later on Thursday.

The FTSE 100 index was up 69.21 points, or 0.9%, at 7,494.82 midday on Thursday. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index was up 206.88 points, or 1.0%, at 20,644.65. The AIM All-Share index was up 3.25 points, or 0.3%, at 1,019.71.

The Cboe UK 100 index was up 0.8% at 746.41. The Cboe 250 was up 1.0% at 18,207.78. The Cboe Small Companies climbed 0.2% to 15,106.47.

The pound was trading at roughly a two-year low against the dollar, boosting the FTSE 100 with its many dollar-earning members.

The pound fell to $1.2481 midday Thursday from $1.2509 late Wednesday. The euro stood at $1.0510, down from $1.0525. Against the yen, the dollar rose to JP¥130.38 from JP¥128.45.

In mainland Europe, the CAC 40 in Paris was up 1.4% in early afternoon trade and the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was up 1.2%.

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is called to open up 0.8%, the S&P 500 up 1.4% and the Nasdaq Composite 1.9% higher.

‘If you were looking for a candidate to come to the tech sector's rescue it might not have been Meta Platforms given its reputation has taken a real battering of late,’ AJ Bell analyst Russ Mould commented.

‘Crucially user numbers for Facebook ticked up, giving investors something to celebrate in the here and now with the company's investment in the metaverse a much longer term and uncertain prospect.’

Meta Platforms shares were 17% higher in pre-market trade on Thursday, though they remain down almost 40% so far in 2022.

Apple was up 2.4%, while Amazon was 2.8% higher. Subscriber numbers from their streaming services will be in focus later, after industry leader Netflix's miss last week.

In London, Standard Chartered was the best large-cap performer in London, surging 16%.

The Asia-focused bank upped its annual income growth outlook. StanChart now expects income growth ‘slightly’ ahead of its previously guided 5% to 7% range.

Peer Barclays was up 2.9%. It reported a drop in first quarter profit as the bank started to rebuild credit impairments and took a hit from over-selling certain securities to US investors.

In the three months to March 31, Barclays recorded pretax profit of £2.23 billion, slipping from £2.40 billion in the same period a year prior.

The bank set aside £141 million in credit impairment charges, up sharply from £55 million the year before.

Total group operating costs increased to £3.59 billion from £3.55 billion, with the bank including about £540 million of conduct charges following the over-issuance of securities by Barclays Bank PLC in the US.

‘The results stand in contrast to much weaker performances to wholesale peers Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse,’ commented Rob Murphy at research firm Edison. ‘The market is still reluctant to re-rate banks due to uncertainty over the deteriorating outlook for economic growth given the squeeze on consumer real incomes and tightening monetary policy; however Barclays has made a good start to the year.’

Lancashire Holdings was the best mid-cap performer, adding 6.7%, after posting 35% growth in gross premiums written in the first quarter of 2022.

The insurer said gross written premiums in the first quarter of 2022 rose 35% annually to $477.9 million.

The Bermuda-headquartered insurer said gross premiums written totalled $477.9 million in the three months to the end of March, soaring from $354.8 million a year ago.

All segments except Aviation saw growth, with Marine's premium growth the fastest, up 64% year-on-year to $35.7 million, while property & casualty reinsurance made up the bulk of the result, at $310.1 million and up 39% on a year before.

Lancashire said it estimates its net losses incurred within Ukraine are in the range of $20 million to $30 million.

Elsewhere in London, cryptocurrency miner Argo Blockchain rose 12% on improved earnings in 2021.

Revenue rose almost four-fold to £74.2 million, helped by higher bitcoin prices. Pretax profit surged to £39.3 million from £1.4 million.

Shares in the London-listed food delivery sector were on the up slightly, with Deliveroo rising 1.6% and Just Eat Takeaway adding 1.2%.

The same could not be said of Frankfurt-listed peer Delivery Hero. The stock once again faced heavy selling pressure and was down 8.9%. So far this year, it has lost over 70%.

Thursday's fall came despite largely decent first-quarter revenue growth.

For the quarter ended March 31, total segment revenue stood 52% higher at €2.05 billion from €1.35 billion a year ago, the Berlin-based online food-delivery service operator reported. Gross merchandise value rose 31% to €10.15 billion from €7.77 billion.

Shares in the company have struggled since it reported annual results in February.

‘The FY21 print put Delivery Hero on the back foot, lopping 40% off the equity as the shifting sentiment backdrop catapulted Delivery Hero from hero to villain,’ analysts at Davy commented.

Brent oil was quoted at $104.92 a barrel midday Thursday in London, down from $105.34 late Wednesday. Gold stood at $1,889.66 an ounce, largely flat from $1,885.50.

The economic events calendar on Thursday has Germany inflation data at 1300 BST and US GDP at 1330 BST.

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Issue Date: 28 Apr 2022