Despite potential looming gloom in the form of this week’s UK jobs, retail and inflation data, as well as more possible news from the US-China trade war and Brexit, the FTSE 100 has made a strong start this morning.

Investors appear somewhat optimistic with the UK’s leading basket of stocks opening 0.6% higher at 7,297.32, while the FTSE 250 – considered more representative of the UK economy – also opened 0.6% up at 19,204.40.

Big Six energy provider SSE (SSE) gained 0.8% to £11.03 after it confirmed it is in discussions with Ovo Group over the potential sale of its energy services division, which supplies 5.7m households.

SSE said in its preliminary results statement in May that it was actively looking at a sale or float of the division, ‘having determined that its best future lies outside the SSE group.’

The firm stressed talks are ongoing and that no agreement or final decision has yet been made.

If a deal is reached, it would leave SSE as a generator and distributor of energy with its renewables and networks businesses, while Ovo would become the second largest household energy supplier in the UK behind British Gas.

SSE has been under pressure to sell the division since merger talks with npower failed last year.

Shares in shipping services provider Clarksons (CKN) dipped 0.2% to £25.20 following interim results in which it reported a 10% gain in revenue to £167.8m and 5% rise in underlying pre-tax to £20.1m in the six months to 30 June, up from £152.6m and £19.2m respectively in the same period last year.

Clarksons chief executive Andi Case said the performance was ‘robust’ despite ‘suppressed investor appetite weighing on the financial markets’.

Life sciences investment trust Syncona (SYNC) remained flat at 237p despite a 57% jump in its valuation in June after it sold its investments in Blue Earth Diagnostics and Nightstar.

The company sold Nightstar to Biogen, with £255.8m of proceeds received in the period, representing a 4.5 times return on original investment.

Shares in litigation finance provider Burford Capital (BUR: AIM) dropped 5.4% to 807p after opening higher as it laid into short seller Muddy Waters, alleging illegal market manipulation in its shares.

In a fascinating statement, Burford said it has been the victim of ‘spoofing’ and ‘layering’. The company gives a detailed explanation of what both terms mean in a statement provided to the market this morning.

Travel group Thomas Cook (TCG) plunged 17% to 8p after it admitted it needs another £150m cash injection – on top of the £750m already given to it – in order to ensure it survives this winter, a time of year which is always quiet for travel firms.

Its share price had steadily increased over the past week as Turkish travel entrepreneur Neset Kockar quietly built up a stake in the business, but the latest news again has investors concerned over the company’s future.

Shares in mattress maker Eve Sleep (EVE: AIM) have been suspended after it confirmed it is in merger talks with rival Simba. The firm said talks are at a very early stage and that there is no certainty that the potential transaction will proceed.

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Issue Date: 12 Aug 2019