UK stocks got off to a firm start to trading following the holiday-extended weekend with economically sensitive sectors, including miners, travel and energy, driving gains.

The benchmark FTSE 100 opened around 0.6% higher, pushing back above the 7,000 market at 7,011.80 with Fresnillio’s (FRES) near 3.5% at 851.4p leading the index. Travel and leisure companies also saw firm demand as Brits await the announcement of a green list for countries that people can travel to on holiday after 17 May and beyond.

BA-owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) was also ahead, up 3.5% at 209.9p, ahead of its figures later this week and on hopes that international travel corridors will soon be thronging. TUI (TUI) and EasyJet (EZJ) led the FTSE 250 risers, with the UK mid-cap index 0.3% ahead at 22,562.15.

Hotelier Whitbread (WTB), shopping centres owner British Land (BLND) and builder Persimmon (PSN), all by and large part of the reopening trade, made solid gains as the UK economy gains momentum.

Wall Street had a mixed time overnight, with the S&P 500 rising 0.3% but the Nasdaq Composite dropping 0.5%. US bond yields also moved lower, the US dollar gave up much of its month-end gains from last week and gold powered higher to the brink of $1,800 an ounce.

£60 MILLION BUYBACK FOR FRASERS

Retailing group Frasers (FRAS), the old Sports Direct, rallied 3.5% to 533.5p after it kicked off an up to £60 million share buyback.

Advertising company S4Capital (SFOR) firmed 2.2% to 571p, having upgraded its annual guidance after its first-quarter gross profit jumped 71% as acquisitions boosted sales.

S4Capital, run by Sir Martin Sorrell, also announced that it had acquired Brazilian digital performance agency Raccoon, for an undisclosed sum.

Outdoor advertising group Ocean Outdoor (OOUT) reversed 1.6% to $7.94 as it booked a £184.3 million annual pre-tax loss after its revenue slumped 17% and it wrote down the value of its assets, citing the pandemic.

Subprime lender Provident Financial (PROV) fell 0.8% to 242.8p after it said it would announce the outcome of a review of its troubled consumer credit business next Monday.

Provident Financial said it had noted recent media coverage regarding the review, including the possibility of a managed run-off of its home credit and Satsuma businesses.

Healthcare investor Syncona (SYNC) climbed 2.3% to 243p on news that portfolio company Gyroscope Therapeutics had set a price range for a planned initial public offering in the US.

Syncona said that range would represent an increase in value of its current shareholding in Gyroscope of £52 million-to-£72 million, or 7.7p-to-10.7p per Syncona share.

Real estate investor Londonmetric Property (LMP) rose 1.1% to 227.8p as it secured £780 million of refinancing, including a £380 million private debt placement and two revolving credit facilities totalling £400 million.

Student accommodation developer Unite (UTG) added 1.2% to £11.795 as it extended a London-focused joint venture with GIC by 10 years to September 2032.

SMALL CAP WRAP

Cocktail bar group Nightcap (NGHT:AIM) sank 14% to 28.96p, having launched a £4 million share issue, at yet-to-be-determined price, to help fund the acquisition of Adventure Bar, which would see it operate nine more properties.

The maximum acquisition cost for Adventure Bar was £2.5 million, including an initial 1.0 million and up to £1.5 million of deferred consideration, dependent on financial performance.

Flooring manufacturer Victoria (VCP:AIM) firmed 2% to £10.00 on news that it had acquired Dutch artificial grass and carpets group Edel €49.4 million.

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Issue Date: 04 May 2021