London shares surge higher ion early trade on Friday as traders come to terms with European Central Bank's jawboning and shock monetary policy decisions yesterday, which sparked a sell-off. Wall Street and in Asia firmed overnight, while crude and gold prices remain buoyant.
The FTSE 100 index rallies 100 points, or about 1.7%, to 6,136.
Corporate news is dominated by pubs chain JD Wetherspoon (JDW). Interims show pre-tax profits ahead of analysts’ forecasts but the results and its calls for a more level tax playing field for pubs are overshadowed by chairman Tim Martin’s backing for Brexit, and a withdrawal from the EU. Martin argues that leaving the EU and returning power to the national parliament will increase the level of democracy and accountability. Wetherspoon’s revenues rose but its pre-tax profits fell as operating margins were hit due to increases in pay. The shares are up 6p at 698p.
Insurer Old Mutual's (OML)’s shares take a knock after the company unveiled plans to split itself into four separate companies following a strategic review, alongside prelims. The Anglo-South African financial services group admitted the current structure was too costly and inefficient and the new strategy aims to unlock value currently trapped within the group structure. But investors are less than impressed, marking the stock nearly 2% lower at 182p.
IT service supplier Computacenter (CCC) stumbles 4.5% to 789.5p as the group books a full year adjusted pre-tax profit of £86.9 million, up 7.2% on the year, but marginally off consensus for £87.8 million. Worries about the UK part, the growth powerhouse in recent years, cap investor interest.
A profit warning and news that Cambian (CMBN) will breach its banking covenants sends shares in the social care provider 13.7% lower to 70.7p. Management are speaking with the banks in the hope of amending existing agreements.
Just Retirement (JRG), up 3.4% to 138.55p, has booked a first half pre-tax profit of £26.1 million, from a year-earlier loss of £9.2 million. Revenue was significantly ahead at £989 million and total new business was up 50%.
Also in demand are DFS Furniture (DFS), sitting pretty with a 3.8% gain at 319.2p, and floorcoverings leader Carpetright (CPR), 5.8% firmer at 355.5p, on a positive 'big ticket' read-across from the furniture category's strong February showing, as flagged in the monthly BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor (RSM).
Smart heating and lighting designer Lightwave RF (LWRF:AIM) slides 16.5% to 16.5p after its pre-tax loss widens from £300,000 to £420,000 in 2015 with revenue 31% lower at £2.1 million. The £3.7 million microcap says initial stocking orders benefited 2014 and there were distribution issues on some key lines which have now been resolved.