UK stocks opened flat in thin trading with little corporate news to influence prices.

There was a sharp fall in sterling overnight however, sending the currency back to $1.29 or below its level ahead of the general election.

The FTSE 100 index of leading stocks was almost unchanged at 7,621 with few obvious sector gainers or losers. The FTSE 250 index of mid-cap stocks was also unchanged at 21,831

The biggest loser on the FTSE 100 was clinic operator NMC Health (NMC) which gave up 7.5% to £16.46 after chalking up a 35% gain yesterday. The company’s shares continue to see-saw as it fights off negative claims regarding its balance sheet and financing from a US short-seller.

Telecoms group BT (BT.A) was another faller, slipping 2% to 198p on thin volume, while food-delivery firm Ocado (OCDO) was the best gainer for the second day in a row adding another 1.9% to £12.74.

In company news, heat-treatment specialist Bodycote (BOY) announced the $200m (£154m) acquisition of Ellison Surface Technologies of the US to bolster its aerospace business.

Ellison is expected to generate $58m or £44m of revenues and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £12m or £9m this year. Bodycote shares climbed 1.7% to 963p.

Environmental investor John Laing Group (JLG) has bought an undisclosed stake in an Australian waste-to-energy project for A$51.5m or £28m.

When complete the plant will process 300,000 of waste diverted from landfill per year and generate around 29MW of renewable energy. Shares added 0.4% to 378p.

Car dealership Pendragon (PDG) announced the sale of its Jaguar Land Rover franchise in Newport Beach, California, for £31.1m.

 

Despite the positive news, Pendragon shares traded sideways at 12.7p.

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Issue Date: 24 Dec 2019