Oil prices were rallying hard at lunchtime on Monday as investors bet on speculation that major produces, the cabal known as OPEC+, may pause an output increase in response to the spread of Omicron.

At 12.20pm, Brent crude futures had jumped almost 5% to $74.92 following the big sell-off on Friday.

That helped the benchmark FTSE 100 add more than 80 points, or about 1.15% at 7,122.85 as oil giants BP (BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) added around 3.5% apiece to 328.95p and £16.112 given their heavy market weightings.

Some calm was re-established after vaccine makers said they could make new formulae to combat the new virus strain within weeks.

Investors will now be eagerly watching US markets when they open later this afternoon. The signs are promising with Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 index futures pointing to firm gains of 0.6%, 0.8% and 1.6% respectively.

TAKEOVERS, REAL AND MOOTED

Aside from oil, UK markets are also being lifted by BT (BT.A)  after it was linked as a takeover target by India’s Reliance Industries, although the sub-continent conglomarete was quick to quash those rumours.

Even so, BT shares still sit at the top of the FTSE 100 leader board, up 6% at 163.15p.

French alternative telecom group Altice has been stakebuilding in BT and holds 12.1% of the company which, argue some market watchers, could spark a potential buyout battle for the UK telco. Private equity has also been sniffing around the European sector recently with KKR pitching a £9.3 billion offer for Telecom Italia.

Shares in retail car group Marshall Motor (MMH:AIM) surged nearly 45% to 392p after the company’s board agreed a 400p cash offer from a wholly-owned subsidiary of Constellation Automotive Holdings.

The offer values the firm at £322.9 million and represents a premium of 41.3% to Friday’s closing price.

high growth digital technology investor Molten Ventures (GROW) said first half pre-tax profit jumped to £247.5 million from £53.6 million year-on-year as total income jumped to £262.0 million from £62.4 million.

Formerly known as Draper Esprit, the company was recently included in the FTSE 250 market segment and post period end has deployed £36 million in new investments including an investment in Satellite Vu, a British start-up using satellite technology to determine valuable insights into economic activity, energy efficiency and carbon footprint.

Net asset value per share increased to 887p from 743p as at 31 March 2021. The shares gained 4% to 912p.

Intellectual property-based businesses owner IP Group (IPO)  said it had generated a gain of about £27.4 million, or 3p per share following a funding round completed by one of its portfolio companies.

The company had committed about £5 million to the funding round and, following completion of the first close, has an undiluted beneficial holding of 29.0%. The shares added 3.6% to 116p.

Aquaculture company Benchmark (BMK:AIM) said fourth quarter revenues increased 51% in constant currencies to £37.3 million while adjusted operating profit was 35% higher at £3.5 million.

For the full year ended 30 September revenues were 18.5% ahead to £125.1 million and operating profit was 37% higher at £10.8 million.

All business areas contributed to strong fourth quarter growth with genetics up 35% driven by higher sales of salmon eggs and harvest income while the advanced nutrition division grew 49% in constant currencies.

Health revenues jumped 215% in constant currencies benefiting from sales from Ectosan Vet and CleanTreat.

The company said current trading was inline with expectations for the 2022 financial year. The shares dipped 0.8% to 62p.

ENERGY BOOST

Irn Bru and Funkin brands soft drinks company AG Barr (BAG)  said it expected full year profit to be ahead of current market expectations after strong performance in both ‘on-the-go’ and hospitality sectors.

The company said despite a challenging supply chain environment its production and wider supply chain had ‘maintained their resilience’ and supported growth in volumes. The shares jumped 4% to 486.5p.

Shares in cancer therapies and diagnostics company Avacta (AVCT:AIM) leapt 6% higher to 127.3p after the company said it received approval from the US health regulator the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for its investigational new chemotherapy drug AVA6000.

The approval will allow the company to start clinical trials in the US expected to start in early 2022.

A list of FTSE 100 index movers can be seen HERE

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Issue Date: 29 Nov 2021