Increasing hopes that the US and China will finally put their long-running trade dispute behind them gives investors a welcome lift as we begin a new trading week, but the ongoing lack of corporate news continues to act as a brake on hubris in the UK.

In early deals the FTSE 100 remains largely directionless, drifting six points lower to 7,431.01, although FTSE 250 mid-caps are doing better, up around 55 points at 19,767.29.

Office rental business IWG (IWG), which used to be called Regus, tops the FTSE All Share leader board early on Monday after unveiling a strategic partnership with Japanese business TKP. Listed in its homeland, TKP rents out conference rooms and banquet halls.

The deal will see IWG’s Japanese assets transferred to TKP in a deal worth £320m to the UK-based company.

Mark Dixon, chief executive of IWG, says the transaction ‘realises an attractive valuation for IWG's shareholders and re-affirms our strategy of capital efficient growth,’ and investors seem to agree. Shares in IWG rally 15% to 315.4p, valuing the FTSDE 250 firm at £2.84bn.

Mining groups remain on the back foot among leading FTSE 100 stocks with Rio Tinto (RIO) confirming plans to plough an extra $302m to speed-up development of its Resolution copper project located in the US state of Arizona.

The investment will fund additional drilling, ore-body studies, infrastructure improvements and permitting activities, the group says. When fully operational, the project will have the potential to supply 25% of the US' copper demand, the company says.

But wider economic matters seem to be dampening demand across the sector. Rio sees its shares come off by around 1% to £47.235, while peers Anglo American (AAL) and BHP Group (BHP), formerly known as BHP Billiton, also nudge lower.

WORKERS IN DEMAND

Recruitment firm Robert Walters (RWA) posts a 10% rise in net fee income for the first quarter to 31 March 2019. The company trading update shows growth coming from right across its global operations, with major UK, Europe and Asian market revenues ahead by 9% to 10% in the quarter.

This was despite economic and political uncertainty in a number of markets, says the company, noting the UK and France. Shares in the company remain flat at 596p, valuing the business at approximately the £450m mark.

Construction and property company Kier (KIE) sees its new chief executive Andrew Davies start work on Monday and his first job is to launch a strategic review of the entire business.

That’s in response to ongoing challenges for many outsource construction companies in the wake of the collapse of Carillion. Kier shares nudge 2.8% higher to 357.8p.

There is board room change at spread betting firm IG Group (IGG) also, after chairman Andy Green announce his decision to stand down in September 2019. Senior Independent non-executive director Malcolm Le May will lead the search for Green's replacement.

WEALTH MANAGEMENT MERGER?

Wealth manager Brewin Dolphin (BRW) has confirmed weekend press speculation that it is in talks about buying the wealth management operations of South African bank Investec (INVP) in Ireland.

No other details are given although the usual caveat that a deal is not certain is popped on the end of the announcement. Brewin shares barely budge, up just 1p at 331.8p.

Finally, hopes are running high on Monday for investors in energy explorer European Oil & Gas (ENOG) after the company confirmed a major new find. The discovery comes at its Karish North exploration well, where between one trillion and 1.5 trillion cubic feet of gas has been identified, sending shares in the business shooting 10.5% higher to 862p.


Issue Date: 15 Apr 2019