London’s FTSE 100 firms 55 points to 7,706 on Friday, re-crossing the 7,700 mark as investors try to shrug off the ongoing trade war between the US and China as well as President Trump’s comment that Theresa May’s Brexit plan ‘will probably kill’ any potential US trade deal.

In corporate news, recruitment giant Hays (HAS) catches a bid, the shares rising 4.7% to 200.2p on the news full year operating profit will come in ‘marginally’ ahead of the current £240.9m market consensus. This follows a strong fourth quarter ended 30 June, with like-for-like net fees flying 15% higher for Hays’ 21st consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth.

Credit reporting agency Experian’s (EXPN) strong run continues, the shares ticking 8p higher to £19.29 on a positive first quarter trading update highlighting healthy organic growth in the core North American market. CEO Brian Cassin says his charge has started the year well, with total revenue up 10% in the quarter ended 30 June at constant currency with a boost from a range of new product introductions, and leaves full year guidance unchanged, albeit the anticipated earnings impact from foreign exchange movements rises from 1% to 4%.

Emerging markets specialist Ashmore (ASHM) rebounds 2.9% to 360.6p despite a disappointing fourth quarter update revealing a US$2.6bn decrease in assets under management (AuM) to US$73.9bn, returns crimped by the stronger US dollar and weaker euro and concerns about trade protectionism.

Yet the market welcomes comments from CEO Mark Coombs, who says ‘this has left Emerging Markets valuations at levels last seen immediately after the US election in 2016, following which markets delivered a sustained rally.’ Coombs believes ‘the recent sell off has created significant value opportunities on which an active manager such as Ashmore can capitalise.'

DCC (DCC) improves 210p or 3% to £71.10 as the Dublin-headquartered support services group reports strong growth in first quarter operating profits and reiterates full year guidance. Deal-hungry DCC also announces a further two acquisitions, namely US-based professional audio-visual products play Stampede and Kondor, a UK distributor of audio and mobile accessory products.

Elsewhere, Safecharge (SCH:AIM) skips 4.5p higher to 333p on a bullish first half trading update, the payments technology specialist highlighting good momentum in revenues and transaction processing volumes, driven by continued new client wins.

Adtech supplier RhythmOne (RTHM:AIM) sparks up 7.4% to 188p on news of a strong start to the year with both revenue and earnings both ahead in the first quarter to 30 June.

Inspired Energy (INSE:AIM) inches 0.7% higher to 19.94p as the energy procurement specialist confirms the influential ‘Cornwall Insight Report’, which assesses the service performance of energy service providers, has ranked Inspired ‘Number One’ in the market, being the leading third party intermediary in the Industrial & Commercial sector index rankings.

‘We welcome this strong endorsement of operating performance, reflecting the high service standards that the group seeks to offer and core to its growth strategy,’ thunders Shore Capital.

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Issue Date: 13 Jul 2018