London’s FTSE 100 added a further 117 points to trade at 7,470.5 on Monday, building on Friday’s impressive rally thanks to some of the bigger constituents taking a small step forward including banks, miners and tobacco stocks.

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct (SPD) sprinted 13.3% higher to 407.8p after the retailer reported a 58% rise in first half underlying pre-tax profit to £101.8m and insisted it would not be on the hook for any ‘material liabilities’ arising from a £674m Belgian tax issue.

The trainers-to-tennis rackets seller’s strong half-year showing reflected a stable performance in the core sports retail business and reduced losses in the Premium Lifestyle division, where it is starting to see ‘the green shoots of recovery’ at acquired department store House of Fraser. Investors were also encouraged by guidance for 5%-to-15% growth in underlying earnings for the year ending 26 April 2020.

Heading in the opposite direction was Cineworld (CINE), off 5.4% to 195p as investors fretted over the debt-financed, US$2.1bn takeover of Canada’s biggest cinema operator Cineplex, which Cineworld plans to combine with its US chain Regal Entertainment.

Elsewhere, defence contractor Chemring (CHG) clipped ahead 2% to 203p on full year results showing a near-60% surge in underlying pre-tax profit to £39.4m thanks to a strong performance from its Sensors & Information business.

Formerly named Findel, Studio Retail (STU) sparked up 10p to 230p as robust first half results highlighted record Black Friday sales for the online value retailer’s Studio business. Studio Retail, which is 36.85%-owned by Sports Direct, also announced the £50m disposal of its Education business.

Unloved infrastructure outfit Kier (KIE) climbed 2p to 93p on the appointment of former Royal Mail (RMG) numbers man Matthew Lester as chairman.

Utility supplier Yu (YU.) rallied 23.5% to 100p after entering into a new five year energy trading agreement with SmartestEnergy, a deal that furthers the independent gas, electricity and water supplier’s prospects for a return to profitable growth.

Touchstone Exploration (TXP:AIM) gushed 56.4% higher to 21.5p on a significant oil discovery at its ‘Cascadura-1ST1’ well at Ortoire in Trinidad and Tobago.

Digital chemistry specialist DeepMatter (DMTR:AIM) was marked up 7.9% to 2.05p on the appointment of a trio of leading industry advisors on the commercial roll-out of DigitalGlassware, the AIM company’s artificial intelligence-enabled platform.

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Issue Date: 16 Dec 2019