London's FTSE 100 bounces 39.79 points higher to 6719.16 on Friday, with Berkeley Homes (BKG) among the major stocks in demand. An impressive set of interim results sends shares in the housebuilder 5.5% higher to £26.42. The £3.4 billion cap, guided by seasoned home builder Tony Pidgley, grew revenues 24.5% to £1.02 billion in the six months to end-October, driving pre-tax profits almost 80% higher to £304.9 million with a boost from the sale of ground rent assets.
Recruiters see gains on a positive read-across from a strong trading update from international staffer SThree (STHR), building on yesterday’s forecast-beating statement from Robert Walters (RWA). SThree says group gross profit, a key metric for recruitment companies, posted a year-on-year 27% growth rate in the fourth quarter, sending the shares up 3.3% to 305p. Fellow recruiters Michael Page (MPI), Hays (HAS) and Robert Walters are all bid higher.
Quality assurance outfit Intertek (ITRK) sparks up 3.5% to £23.42 on a bullish write-up from Deutsche Bank. It slaps a price target of £24.50 on the stock and upgrades its rating from ‘hold’ to ‘buy’.
Sky (SKY) adds 1.2% to 937p on positive reaction to its decision to sell an 80% stake in its Sky Bet gambling business to private equity group CVC Capital Partners. Sky will receive £600 million in cash for the sale, which analysts suggest could be used for new investments, to reduce net debt or to buy out its remaining minority shareholders in Germany.
Canary Wharf landlord Songbird Estates (SBD:AIM) swoops 3.4% lower to 318.5p after rebuffing a £2.6 billion bid from the Qatar Investment Authority and commercial property investor Brookfield Property Partners.
Balfour Beatty (BBY) rises 3.4% to 190.0p following its rejection of a £1 billion bid by John Laing Infrastructure Fund (JLIF) for the group's entire PPP portfolio. John Laing meanwhile adds 1.8% at 122.8p.
Lettings franchiser Belvoir (BLV:AIM) rises 4.6% to 135p after making its sixth acquisition of the year. The company has bought an agency in Shipley, West Yorkshire, adding 154 managed properties to its network.
Bank of Georgia (BGEO) drops 8.9% to £20.27 on Thursday's late news it plans to place up to 3.59 million new shares, almost 10% of the current issued share capital, with institutional investors to fund the purchase of further hospitals, another bank and a stake in a Tbilisi water utility.
Commercial flooring manufacturer James Halstead (JHD:AIM) cheapens 3.5p to 315.13p despite posting a positive annual meeting update, as investors take profits after a strong run. Chairman Geoffrey Halstead says the Manchester-based company is on course for record sales and profits in its centenary year, as well as a fortieth year of dividend growth.
Latin American producer Global Energy Development (GED:AIM) gains 18.4% to 51.5p as it completes the sale of its assets in the Llanos basin in Colombia for $49 million (£31.3 million). This is some way in excess of the current market cap of £18.6 million.
Biological products play Plant Health Care (PHC:AIM) perks up 3% to 122p after inking a development and distribution deal with Arysta LifeScience to use its technology on sugar cane crop assets in Brazil.