UK stocks ended Monday deeply in the red on a toxic mix of growth concerns and contagion risks from the implosion of Evergrande, China’s biggest property lender.

Investor skittishness will likely remain ahead of Wednesday’s monetary policy meeting of the Federal Reserve where the US central bank will give its latest views on the economy and its emergency stimulus programme.

At the close FTSE 100 index of leading shares was down 0.8% at 6,908 points while in the US the S&P 500 index was trading down 2%.

COMPANY NEWS

Energy group SSE (SSE) said it had no plans to break up the company following press speculation that activist investor Elliot wants it to sell or separate its renewables business.

SSE reiterated it would provide an update on its growth strategy with its half-year results in November, including details of ‘significantly increased’ capital investment for the period to 2026. Bucking the negative trend across the market, SSE shares gained 0.4% to £16.42.

Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca (AZNand Daiichi Sankyo said their antibody drug Enhertu reduced the risk of disease progression or death from breast cancer by 72% versus the current breast cancer antibody drug conjugate.

The company said ground-breaking results from a phase three study supported the case for Enhertu to potentially become the new standard of care in previously treated patients. The shares gained 3.4% to £83.37.

Plastics producer Victrex (VCT) said it had appointed Vivienne Cox as its incoming chairman.

Cox was currently a non-executive director of GlaxoSmithKline and Stena in Sweden and a previous chairman of manufacturing group Vallourec. Share replaces Larry Pentz, who will step down from the board at the company's 2022 annual general meeting after nearly eight years in the role. The shares lost 0.6% to £24.70.

Vehicle services group Redde Northgate (REDD) said its business had continued to perform ‘strongly’ across all segments in the first two months of the 2022 financial year.

Shareholders will vote on the proposed 12p per share final dividend, taking the full year pay out to 15.4p per share. The shares dropped 2.9% to 417.5p.

CAPITAL RAISE

Insurance giant Prudential (PRU) announced a capital raising in Hong Kong that it said would target $2.25 billion to redeem existing high coupon debt, and provide additional financial flexibility.

Prudential said it would raise up to 5% of its issued share capital, or up to about 130.8 million shares, on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange through a public offer and international placing. The shares tumbled 8% to £13.30.

Specialty bakery firm Finsbury Food (FIF:AIM) said pre-tax profit increased 493% to £17 million for the year ended 26 June as revenues climbed 2.3% to £313.3 million.

The company said it faced ‘persistent’ inflation and labour shortages challenges but maintained its long-term growth ambitions. The shares gained 1% to 96.1p.

Specialist contract research organisation and world leader in vaccine and antiviral testing using human challenge clinical trials Open Orhan (ORPH:AIM) said first half revenues jumped 227% to £23.2 million while it reported an operating profit of £1.6 million compared to a loss of £6.3 million last year.

In a separate statement the company said it had secured a £5.7 million contract from a ‘specialist biotechnology company’ developing therapeutics for respiratory viral infections.

Open Orphan said it expected revenue from the contract to be recognised across 2021 and 2022. The shares dropped 2% to 24.9p.

Financial services group Frenkel Topping (FEN:AIM) increased its interim dividend after reporting a rise in first-half assets under management following new fund inflows.

For the six months ended 30 June 2021, assets under management rose 15% to £1.1 billion year-on-year, after receiving £73 million of new investment mandates, down 3% from the prior year.

The interim dividend was raised 6% to 34p per share. The shares dropped 1.6% to 72.3p.

A LIST OF FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS CAN BE SEEN HERE

Find out how to deal online from £1.50 in a SIPP, ISA or Dealing account.

Issue Date: 20 Sep 2021