UK equities continued to trade in positive territory by midday on Monday with the FTSE 100 blue chip index 1% higher at 7,191 points and the mid-cap FTSE 250 index 0.4% firmer at 22,734 points

The market was encouraged by the latest IHS Markit monthly construction purchasing managers index for November which improved to 55.5 from 54.6 in October.

A score of above 50 indicates growth, and the index has posted above the 50 level for 10 consecutive months, with the latest reading pointing to the strongest rate of expansion since July.

Meanwhile, crude prices climbed 1.3% to $72.10 per barrel helping to lift shares in oil majors BP (BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB).

COMPANY NEWS

Heavyweight pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca (AZN) climbed 1.3% to £83.03 after a report quoted the drugmaker as saying it had been studying listing of a new vaccines division.

Telecom firm BT (BT.A), which has been the subject of takeover speculation recently, saw its shares rise 1.8% to 172p on press reports it was in talks with media firm Discovery to merge its BT Sport subsidiary with the US company rather than sell it, as had been mooted.

Homebuilder Taylor Wimpey (TW.) drifted 0.4% to 162p despite a report that US activist investor Elliot Management had bought a stake in the company.

London Stock Exchange (LSE) rose nearly 1% to £65.84 as it unveiled plans to acquire risk management specialist Quantile for up to £274 million.

Quantile provides portfolio, margin and capital optimization services to banks, hedge funds and financial institutions trading derivatives. The transaction is being funded from existing cash resources and is expected to close in 2022, subject to regulatory approval.

The addition of data and technology businesses such as Refinitiv and Quantile is part of the company's drive to give customers more reasons to put more of their trading through its exchanges.

Cyber security company Darktrace (DARK), which is set to leave the FTSE 100 this month after a brief stint in the top flight, said it planned to start a share buyback programme of up to four million ordinary shares, with £30 million allocated to the scheme.

Chemicals company Synthomer (SYNT) fell by 11.5% to 420p following a downgrade from analysts at Morgan Stanley from Overweight to Underweight.

The US broker also lowered its share price target from 568p to 400p on concerns regarding management transition, a deterioration in the supply outlook and leverage.

170 year-ols shipping services firm Clarksons (CKN) said results for the year to December would be ahead of current expectations, with underlying profit before tax now seen not less than £65 million against a market forecast of £55 million.

Specialty chemicals firm Victrex (VCT)  rallied 3.2% to £24.30 after flagging revenue and underlying profit growth of 15% and 21% respectively and raising its dividend.

The company also said that it is facing sizeable currency headwinds and increased raw material and energy costs.

Marshall Motor (MMH) has recommends shareholders accept 400p per share offer from Constellation.

Soft drinks maker AG Barr (BAG) said it had bought an initial 60% equity stake in plant-based foods company MOMA Foods with an agreement to take full ownership over the next 3 years.

The transaction is not expected to have a material impact on the Group's profits for the current financial year ending 30 January 2022.

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Issue Date: 06 Dec 2021