UK investors react positively to the gains seen overnight on Wall Street after the release of the last set of Fed minutes which appear to point to a shallower path for interest rate increases over the coming year. That sends the FTSE 100 soaring, the index up nearly 70 points, or 1.1%, to 6,348, with mid and small caps also firmly higher.
Royal Mail (RMG) gains 5.7% to 481p as half year results show underlying revenue and operating profit were flat at £4.4 billion and £342 million respectively. The results are marginally better than expected because of strong performance in its General Logistics Systems unit. The interim dividend hiked to 7p a share, from 6.7p is clearly a big incentive for buyers.
Consumers could be exposed to soaring energy prices under new government plans, warns Dorothy Thompson, CEO of coal-fired power generator Drax (DRX). She also believes that plans to phase out coal fired power plants and replace them by stations run on gas would leave the UK dependent on imported gas. Shares in the coal and biomass energy provider nudge 2.6% higher to 222.9p.
But the big story of the day comes at discounter Poundland (PLND). Its shares take a pounding, down 16.6% to 232.3p, as an uncertain outlook statement and deteriorating trading at acquired business 99p Stores trigger forecast downgrades. The single price general merchandise chain's first half taxable profits fell 26.3% to £9.3 million in a tougher market, while CEO Jim McCarthy reports 'highly volatile trading conditions so far in the third quarter', whose performance therefore 'depends more than ever upon the last weeks' trading towards Christmas.'
Coal of Africa (CZA:AIM) jumps 18.6% to 3.29p after the South African environmental minister dismissed an appeal against the miner’s environmental approval to run its Vele coal mine. Operations are presently suspended pending plant modifications and an assessment of forecast global coal prices.
Generic drug manufacturer Beximco Pharmaceuticals (BXP:AIM) advances 11.3% to 22p on winning approval to make blood pressure drug Carvedilol in its native Bangladesh to be exported to the US. The first batches of the drug will be shipped in the first half of 2016.
Branded fashion retailer Ted Baker (TED) ticks 18p higher to £34.46 on another strong trading update, flagging retail sales more than 18% ahead and 27% wholesale revenue growth over the 13 weeks to 14 November.