FTSE 100 held back by sterling strength with trading set to resume in the US

Tue, 16th Feb 2021

The FTSE 100 was just about keeping its head above water, up 0.14% to 6,765.73 by midday as it looked to consolidate Monday's big gains. Holding back the index, which has benefited from rising commodity prices, are further gains for sterling as sentiment towards the UK improves off the back of a successful vaccine roll-out. Trading is due to resume on Wall Street after markets were closed for Presidents Day yesterday with futures markets implying modest gains. BHP gained 1.7% to £22.65 as it reported a 13% rise in first-half pre-tax profit to $8.83 billion, as revenue was boosted by higher iron ore and copper prices. The world's biggest mining company hiked its interim dividend 55% to 101p per share. Its bottom line profit fell, though, on a higher tax expense. Miner and commodities trader Glencore rose 3.4% to 291.8p after it said it would resume dividends in 2021 with a payout of 12c per share. Glencore's positive dividend news came despite it racking up net losses for 2020 of $1.90 billion, compared to losses in 2019 of $404 million, as revenue slid 34%. Outsourced services provider Serco jumped 5.6% to 126.4p on news that it had agreed to acquire Whitney, Bradley & Brown, a provider of advisory and engineering services to the US Military, for $295 million from an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital. Serco said the deal would be immediately accretive to earnings -- enhancing its underlying earnings per share by around 10% in 2022 -- and funded through existing debt facilities. Self-storage group Safestore climbed 3.5% to 807.5p, having upgraded its annual earnings guidance after its first-quarter revenue rose 11%, amid an improvement in occupancy levels and storage rates. Safestore's adjusted earnings per share for the year through October were now expected towards the top of the range of analysts' forecasts, which currently ranged from 31.2p to 34.6p. Gambling technology provider Playtech added 1.1% to 490.4p following news that it had signed licencing agreements with Greenwood Racing, which owns and operates the Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Playtech said the agreements included licensing of Playtech products to Greenwood companies in the states of Michigan, Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Real estate company LXi REIT shed 1.4% to 126.6p as it detailed plans to raise gross proceeds of about £75 million through the placing of shares at a discount. New LXi REIT shares would be issued at 124.50p each, representing a discount of 3% to the closing price on Monday. Disease test-kit supplier Omega Diagnostics gained 5% to 84p following the publication of positive research that had analysed the performance of a Covid-19 test that it is helping to produce. Infrastructure services provider Nexus Infrastructure dropped 7.9% to 150.1p after it said the Covid-19 pandemic was continuing to hurt its Tamdown unit, with trading in line with its downside scenario for the business. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

FTSE 100 Latest