UK shares inched higher on Wednesday as a pair of healthcare stocks were on the receiving end of takeover bids.
In Asian trading, Japan’s Nikkei 226 and China’s SE Composite indices gained 0.3%.
Gold prices continued recent gains, adding 0.4% to $1,906 per ounce and Brent Crude was 0.75% higher at $69.1 a barrel.
At 9am the FTSE 100 index of leading shares was up 14 points or 0.2% at 7,044 points with drinks, tobacco and gambling stocks making gains while financial stocks lagged.
Growth accelerated to 9.3% between March and April with the products division recording revenue growth of 13.8% and the trade division growing 5.3%.
Looking ahead, the company said it was on track to deliver 2021 targets in revenue, margin accretion and free cash flow. The shares dropped 1.5% to £58.58.
Shares in clothing and food group Marks & Spencer (MKS) leapt 4% to 162.2p after posting full year pre-tax losses of £259.7 million (££335.9 million) with clothing and home revenues slumping 32%, offset partly by 1.3% like-for-like growth in food.
Excluding hospitality and franchises, like-for-like food revenues grew 6.9%. Revenues fell 10% to £9.16 billion.
The company’s online grocery joint venture with Ocado (OCDO) delivered 44% revenue growth over the 52 weeks to 28 February and contributed a share of net income of £78.4 million. Ocado shares nudged up 0.5% to £20.15.
SSE declared a final dividend of 56.6p pence per share, a rise of 1.2% in line with average retail price inflation, making a full-year dividend of 81.0p. The shares dropped 2% to £15.19.
The value of the portfolio was down 10.8%, with offices portfolio down 3.8%, retail down 24.7%, residential down 10.6% and Canada Water down 2.5%.
The company declared a full year dividend of 15.04 pence per share, down from 15.97p last year, but in line with its 80% pay-out of underlying earnings per share. The shares drooped 0.6% to 516.5p.
Spire shareholders would receive 240p per share, a 24% premium to the company's latest closing price.
Ramsay chief executive Craig McNally said, ‘the proposed combination builds a broader platform to take advantage of the opportunity for sustained growth in the £5.8 billion UK private hospital sector, with the aim of delivering best-in-class healthcare to all patients.’
Private healthcare group Mediclinic International (MDC) which holds 29.9% of Spire Healthcare, said it supported the offer but would withdraw its support if a competing offer appeared which was ‘not less than 10%’ greater than the 240p offer on the table.
The company also said full year revenues fell 3% to £3.0 billion and adjusted operating profit fell 32% to £221 million.
The company said it expected to deliver growth in revenue and operating earnings across all three of its divisions in the 2022 financial year. The shares gained 5% to 323p.
Vectura shareholders would receive 136p per share, which the company said represented a 32% premium to its closing price of 103p on Tuesday. They also would be entitled to a 19p per share dividend.
The shares traded at a significant premium to the offer price, suggesting investors expected a higher offer would be needed to secure the transaction.
The company delivered double-digit year-on-year growth in revenue, gross profit and operating profit in the three months through April.
The company added, ‘we remain confident of the road ahead and expect to see further growth in normalised EBIT in the 2022 financial year, likely to result in reported EBIT being broadly in line with the upgraded performance now anticipated for the 2021 financial year.’ The shares jumped 3.8% to £18.72.
A list of FTSE 100 movers can be seen HERE.