UK stocks continued their advance on Wednesday on the back of a swathe of positive news and upgraded guidance and encouraged by the Dow Jones index in the US hitting a record 30,000 points.

At 8.45am the FTSE 100 index was up a further 24 points or 0.4% to 6,456 led by gains in industrial and utility stocks.

Aerospace and auto parts maker Melrose (MRO) was the biggest climber on the FTSE, rallying 8.5% to 77p after it reported trading from July to October had been at the ‘top end of expectations for 2020’.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) division Nortek saw it best ever performance under Melrose’s ownership during the period, while the auto parts and metallurgy divisions were steady and the civil aerospace division avoided a further deterioration in market conditions. Shares jumped 8.5% to 177p.

Shares in United Utilities (UU.) rose 3.3% to 926p after the firm reported a small rise in first half pre-tax profits to £162 million and declared a slight rise in its interim dividend to 14.4p per share.

Instrumentation firm Rotork (ROR) also pleased after it forecast full year operating profits ‘at or slightly above’ the top end of market estimates of £124 million to £136 million.

Trading improved in the third quarter with revenues down just 3% on last year compared with a 10% shortfall in the first half, while margins expanded and the firm’s net cash pile continued to grow. Shares gained 3% to 327p.

Shares in animal genetics firm Genus (GNS) climbed 4.3% to £40.88 after it said that in spite of Covid and currency headwinds it saw full year earnings growing ahead of its previous expectations after strong trading in the last four months.

China’s pig industry is recovering slowly from the impact of African Swine Fever leading to good demand for Genus’s genetic products, while sales of sexed and beef-on-dairy products are growing rapidly across regions.

Media firm Future (FUTR) announced it had made an agreed £594 million offer for price comparison website GoCompare.com owner Goco (GOCO).

The offer, at 136p per share or a 24% premium to the previous closing price, consists of a mixture of cash and shares. GoCo shareholders will own 19% of the combined entity. Shares in Future dipped 2.7% to £19.10 while GoCo shares jumped 19% to 130.8p.

Shares in infrastructure and facilities management group Babcock (BAB) fell 10% to 319p after it posted a larger than expected drop in first half operating profits due to a combination of Covid headwinds, a weak civil aerospace market and the government insourcing of the Magnox and Dounreay projects.

Shares in software firm Aveva (AVV) fell 19% to £33.32 after the admission of 125.7 million nil-paid rights-issue shares following the firm's £2.835 billion capital raise to part-finance its acquisition of OSISoft.

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Issue Date: 25 Nov 2020