UK stocks started the week on a positive note with the FTSE 100 index of leading stocks jumping 0.4% to 7,313. Firmer oil prices and a dip in the pound seem to be the main upside drivers.

Shares in oil majors BP (BP.P) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) both added 1.3% to 507p and £22.88 respectively. Crude prices gained on hopes that the new Saudi Arabian energy minister would continue the country’s policy of restricting its oil production.

Housebuilder Berkeley (BKG) built on Friday’s post-results gains, adding another 0.8% to a new 12-month high of £40.12, while smaller housebuilder Bellway (BWY) added another 0.4% to a three-month high of £30.37.

Shares in shopping centre-owner Intu Properties (INTU) rallied 13% to 41.2p on reports of bid interest from private equity firm Orion Capital.

Intu shares have been trading at nearly a 70% discount to net asset value as the retail property sector struggles with insolvencies and company voluntary agreements.

Retailer and food producer Associated British Foods (ABF) was the biggest loser on the FTSE 100, down 3.2% to £22.79 after its pre-close trading update reveals like-for-like sales at its Primark unit fell 2% for the 12 months to mid-September.

Despite a strong performance from new Primark stores in Europe, like-for-like sales on the continent were down 3% due a weak performance in Germany. The company has moved to strengthen management and initiate ‘focused marketing’ to get sales back on track.

Shares in International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) fell 2.2% to 420p after pilots at its British Airways subsidiary begin a two-day strike over pay and conditions.

Up to 4,000 pilots are involved in the dispute which has resulted in thousands of flights being cancelled and which could cost British Airways up to £40m a day in lost revenue.

High street lender Lloyds (LLOY) was another big FTSE loser, the shares dropping 2% to 49p after the bank suspended its share buyback due to much higher PPI claims than expected.

Instead of 190,000 claims a week in the period leading up to the deadline, the bank says it received between 600,000 and 800,000 claims a week.

Not all of the claims may be valid but to be on the safe side Lloyds is taking extra provisions of between £1.2bn and £1.8bn on top of the £650m it took in the first half and its £1bn of unused provisions.

Share registrar Equiniti (EQN) advanced 0.6% to 214p after it announced the acquisition of investor relations consultancy firm RD:IR for an unnamed sum.

The deal brings Equiniti corporate governance and investor relations expertise which gives it more ‘touch points’ with its clients.

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Issue Date: 09 Sep 2019