The FTSE 100 opens in positive trading following a difficult time last week, rising 0.4% to 7,271.

In Asia the markets are already revealing a degree of positive sentiment with the Nikkei up 1.2%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng exchange up 0.7% and the Shanghai Composite Index up by 1.2%.

In UK corporate news, Primark owner Associated British Foods (SBF) gains 1.5% to £26.85 on a trading statement for the 24 weeks to 3 March.

The company’s outlook is unchanged with improvements in adjusted operating profit and earnings per share expected. Its grocery division including the Twinings tea brand is expected to see higher revenue for the first half of 2018 with the company forecasting profits to be ‘well ahead’ on a year-on-year basis.

Outsourcing and distribution company Bunzl (BNZL) gains 16.5p to £20.27 after its 2017 results came in above market expectations. Its revenues of £8.58bn beat broker Shore Capital forecasts by 1% while its pre-tax profits of £543m was around £13m higher than the same broker’s estimate. Shore believes recent acquisitions should put the company in a good position for 2018.

Media company Ascential (ASCL) ticks up 2.7% to 388.3p as its revenue and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) both improved 25% for 2017 ending 31 December to £375.8m and £119.5m respectively. The company’s recommending a dividend of 5.6p per share which would be an increase of 19% compared to 2016.

FTSE 250 engineering firm Senior (SNR) notches up 3.6% to 295.2p despite revealing a 4% decline in adjusted operating profit for its 2017 year ending 31 December to £82.6m. The company’s profit margin has retreated by 1.2 percentage points standing at 8.1%. However, the company’s free cash flow is up 20% to £58.3m and it has reduced its debt by over £40m to £155.3m.

Global insurance company Hiscox (HSX) loses 4.9% to £13.28 in what was a costly year for insurers. Its pre-tax profits of £93.6m were well off 2016’s £202.1m which emphases the catastrophe losses felt by the insurance industry in 2017. These events also prevented Hiscox paying a special dividend for 2017 although the company still increased its ordinary dividend by 5.5% to 29p per share.

Small cap Arena Events (ARE:AIM) jumps 4.2% to 62.5p after a positive article in the weekend press. The seating-to-structures company also features in the latest issue of Shares where we analyse the business and its prospects.

Savannah Resources (SAV:AIM) says the mineral resource estimate for the Mina do Barroso lithium project in Portugal has more than tripled in size, helping to nudge up its share price by 0.8% to 6.15p. The revised JORC estimated has risen by 200% from the previous estimate to 9.1 million tonnes. Savannah says it remains on track to make a development decision by the end of the year.

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Issue Date: 26 Feb 2018