UK stocks consolidated their gains on Monday after comments from Bank of England members over the weekend hinting at an early rise in interest rates to head off persistently high inflation.

US markets were weaker on Friday after a weak jobs report, but the mood was brighter in Asia where China, Hong Kong and Japan all posted solid gains of between 1% and 2%.

After climbing steadily throughout the session the FTSE 100 index closed up 51 points or 0.7% at 7,147 points led by gains in miners and banks.

COMPANY NEWS

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) revealed a late-stage trial showed its Covid-19 antibody combination treatment reduced the risk of developing severe COVID-19 or death by 50% compared to placebo in outpatients who had been symptomatic for seven days or less. Shares advanced 1.3% to £90.03.

GROWTH SLOWS AT ASOS, CEO QUITS

Shares in online fashion retailer ASOS (ASC:AIM) fell 12% to £24.08 after it reported a rise in annual profit but forecast slower growth for its new fiscal year amid cost pressures.

For the year to 31 August 2021, adjusted pre-tax profit rose 36% to £193.6 million as revenue increased 22% to £3.91 billion. Looking ahead to fiscal 2022, adjusted pre-tax profit was seen in the range of £110 million £140 million, around a third lower than consensus, while sales growth was expected to be in the range of 10% and 15% with first half growth in mid-single digits.

According to the firm, the lower 2022 growth outlook was a result of higher labor and freight costs, coupled with the removal of Covid related benefits and a more normal level of customer returns.

Chief executive Nick Beighton stepped down with immediate effect after 12 years with the firm and six in the top role.

Shares in food and beverage ingredients supplier Treatt (TET) rose 1.9% to £10.55 after it said expected annual revenues to rise around 14%, confirming its recently upgraded earnings guidance.

Revenue for the year through September was seen rising to about £124 million, representing constant currency growth of around 18%, the company said in a trading update. The company said it had a “positive outlook” for the current financial year.

Banknote verification business Spectra Systems (SPSY:AIM) increased its profit guidance for 2021, after one of its long standing central bank customers placed a new order, sending its shares up 4% to 155p.

This year's order is 50% higher than the typical orders with the exception of the large 2020 order during the peak of the pandemic, Spectra said.

Based on the size of this order Spectra is confident that it will exceed 2021 profit before tax and amortization expectations for 2021.

Shares in global payments group Equals (EQLS:AIM)  rose 3.3% to 63p after it confirmed that the record start to the third quarter of the year had been sustained throughout the remainder of the period.

For the three months to 30 September 2021, run-rate increased 62% year-on-year, and 47% on the pre-Covid comparative period.

Networks company CyanConnode (CYAN:AIM) reported higher revenue in the first half of the year as new business wins boosted performance.

For the six months ended 30 September 2021, turnover was £4.1 million, 2.7 times higher than the equivalent fiscal 2021 period, as cash received from customers rose 2.4 times to £3.8 million. The shares were trading 3.7% higher at 12.75p.

Consultancy firm Science Group (SAG:AIM) said it expected 'further upside' in its 2021 profit forecasts, even as it faces supply constrains, FX headwinds and inflationary cost pressures. Today’s announcement is the third upgrade during the current year, and lifted the shares 5.6% to 465p.

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Issue Date: 11 Oct 2021