UK shares rallied on Tuesday as investors turned their attention to vaccine-led economic recovery optimism, while Royal Mail (RMG) climbed after announcing a one-off special dividend.

The benchmark FTSE 100 was up 0.75% at 9am, with bank and mining stocks among the bigger gainers, while reopening stocks also rose, led by BA-owner International Consolidated Airlines’ (IAG) 3.5% jump to 198.9p. Other features included HSBC (HSBA)Barclays (BARC), Prudential (PRU)Rio Tinto (RIO)Anglo American (AAL) and BHP (BHP), the UK’s largest listed business.

Oil heavyweights BP (BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) also lent their considerable weight to Tuesday’s move higher, both up more than 1% at 305.2p and £13.91 respectively.

Britain was given a boost as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that the economy was on track for the gradual re-opening set out in the government’s road-map.

Sentiment in this regard was further bolstered by news the UK had secured a deal for 60 million new Novavax jabs to be formulated and packed here in the UK, removing supply chain issues posed by the threat of an EU vaccines embargo.

Bank of England rate-setter Gertjan Vlieghe said Britain's economy would still need help from the central bank to restore it to its pre-pandemic growth path, even with a fast recovery and some inflation this year. Those comments saw the more domestically-focused mid-cap FTSE 250 post marginally more modest gains, adding 0.55% to 21,552.21.

Imperial Brands (IMB) fell 0.9% to £14.98 even after maintaining its full-year adjusted profit growth forecast, as it expected "significantly reduced" losses from next generation products and increased investments in its business.

SPECIAL DIVIDEND IN THE POST

Royal Mail added 2.8%, after saying it would pay a one-off dividend for the year ending March following recent upgrades to its financial outlook on the back of a surge in parcel demand during the pandemic and a recent pick-up in letter volumes.

Power utility SSE (SSE) edged back 0.5p to £14.555, having reiterated annual earnings guidance after a worse-than-expected impact from weather conditions was offset by a smaller-than-expected hit from Covid-19.

SSE reaffirmed its guidance for adjusted earnings per share in the year through March of between 85p and 90p.

Water utility Pennon (PNN) dropped 2.2% to 971p on announcing that it was continuing to narrow down potential investment opportunities, having recently reaped £3.7 billion from the sale of Viridor.

Pennon reiterated that it may return a substantial amount of capital to shareholders, should it not find an attractive investment target.

Property stocks were well bid with retail sector specialist Hammerson (HMSO), which part-owns London’s Brent Cross shopping centre along with a bunch of other malls, up 4.5% at 34.99p early on.

Student accommodation developer Unite (UTG) firmed 1% to £10.80 after itsbold a portfolio of eight properties for £133 million to Aventicum Real Estate.

The disposal portfolio, comprising 2,284 beds included assets in Coventry, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester.

SMALLCAP WRAP

AIM-listed conferencing platform LoopUp (LOOP:AIM) jumped 20% to 87.9p after reporting on its topsy-turvey 2020.

The company posted a stonking 239% jump in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to £15.3 million on revenues up 18% at £50.2 million, but with a marked second half slowdown.

Secure payments and customer contact solutions firm Eckoh (ECK:AIM) rallied more than 8% to 70.1p after bagging a $1.35 million contract with a US healthcare operation.

Specialist brick manufacturer Michelmersh Brick (MBH:AIM) added 3% to 140p even as it booked a 17% fall in annual profit after the Covid-19 pandemic slowed construction activity and disrupted manufacturing operations.

Michelmersh Brick, however, more than doubled its dividend, citing a strong cash position.

Investment bank and broker Numis (NUM:AIM) gained 3.6% to 393.15p on guiding for a more than 75% jump in first-half revenue.

Packaging company MPAC (MPAC:AIM) fell 4% to 525p after it reported a 46% fall in annual profit as the pandemic hit sales, though it said demand rebounded in the second half.

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Issue Date: 30 Mar 2021