Although there were few nuggets of corporate news as the third quarter drew to a close, the FTSE 100 index of leading stocks continued to climb towards a two-month high adding another 0.1% to 7,331.

Support came mainly from the Banks, with HSBC (HSBA) gaining 0.5% to 627p, Barclays (BARC) gaining 0.3% to 151p and Lloyds (LLOY) also adding 0.3% to 55p.

Weighing on the index were the Oils, with BP (BP.) losing 0.4% to 517p and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) losing 0.2% to £24.

As part of its strategy to reach out to investors and increase transparency, Royal Dutch Shell released an ‘enhanced’ third quarter update although in practice there was little change from the previous guidance issued with the second-quarter results on 1 August.

Shares in drug-maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) were the best performers on the FTSE, gaining 1.6% to £17.53 after phase-3 trials of its ovarian cancer drug Zejula showed a significant improvement in curbing the disease and in survival rates.

Packaging firm DS Smith (SMDS) also received a lift, up 1.1% to 358p, after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) waved through the $585m sale of its plastic packaging arm announced back in March.

The deal is expected to net DS Smith £400m in cash after costs and taxes.

The worst performer on the FTSE was Whitbread (WTB), down 2.5% to £43.56, after analysts at Barclays downgraded the stock from Buy to Hold.

Among the FTSE 250 mid-caps, investment trust 3i Infrastructure (3IN) announced a mixed performance from its alternative energy assets with wind and solar capacity expanding faster than expected but waste treatment experiencing continued weak demand. Shares added 0.4% to 293p.

Also in the FTSE 250, residential landlord Grainger (GRI) announced it had agreed to fund a major new development in Sheffield to the tune of £42m. Shares ticked 0.3% higher to 248p.

On the junior market, shares in financial-planning firm AFH Financial (AFHP: AIM) gained 6% to 293p after it announced that it is turning its focus from acquisitions to organic revenue growth, meaning it doesn’t need additional funding from the capital markets.

On the junior market shares in semiconductor materials supplier IQE (IQE:AIM) jumped 4% to 68.2p after it revealed successful trials of its new wafer for ‘a major Asian OEM’ (original equipment manufacturer).

Production of the new wafers is expected to ramp up strongly over the next few years as applications grow.

In a surprise move, the chief executive of podcast distributor Audioboom (BOOM:AIM) announced that he was stepping down with immediate effect ‘to pursue more entrepreneurial opportunities’. Shares sagged 1.4% to a three-month low of 175p.

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Issue Date: 30 Sep 2019