UK stocks advanced on Monday after Asian markets headed towards three-week highs on optimism that China's efforts to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak would have a positive effect.

The FTSE 100 index gained 0.4% to 7,437 in early trade led by Mining stocks such as Antofagasta (ANTO), BHP (BHP), Rio Tinto (RIO) and other China-exposed stocks.

US stock and bond markets are closed today for a public holiday. Sterling was steady at $1.304 and €1.20 while Brent curde oil prices ticked up to $57.35.

Paper and packaging firm DS Smith (SMDS) lost 1.7% to 360p following the news chief financial officer Adrian Marsh will leave in a year's time to take up the same role at gambling firm William Hill (WMH). Shares in William Hill gained 0.8% to 182p.

There was more drama at Abu Dhabi-based clinic operator NMC Health (NMC) as it revealed several senior resignations. Joint non-executive and co-founder chairman BR Shetty, chief investment officer Hani Buttikhi and board director Abdulrahman Basaddiq would all resign with immediate effect. NMC shares fell 6.8% to 722p.

NMC shares have been under pressure since last December after US short-seller Muddy Waters published research questioning the firm's accounting practices.

Shares in Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) gained 8.4% to 430p after it announced it had reached a deal to buy its rival Merian Global Investors for £370m in new shares and £20m in a deferred earn-out. Jupiter will issue 95.36m new shares on completion of the deal, which is expected in the second half of this year.

The deal brings Jupiter another £22bn of actively-managed assets, taking its total assets under management to more than £65bn, and 'reinforces Jupiter's core UK franchise and extends capabilities into attractive product gaps' according to the press release.

 

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Issue Date: 17 Feb 2020