FTSE 100 makes steady gains as Wall Street opens higher

Thu, 20th May 2021

The FTSE 100 enjoyed a strong afternoon to close up 0.4% at 6,980.58 as bitcoin recovered and US stocks started higher following a market rout yesterday. By 4.30pm UK time the S&P 500 was up 0.6% at 4,153.84. Shares in rail ticket site Trainline plunged 23.1% to 329.2p on government plans to launch a centralised ticket hub as part of a revamp of the UK railway network. National Grid has reported an underlying pre-tax profit of £2.4billion for the year ended 31 March 2021, down 3% when compared with the year before, due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions over the past 12 months. The dividend per share for the period has risen 1% to 49.16p when compared to FY20. The company's share price increased 1.9% to 948.58p. EasyJet's share price fell 2.1% to 962.8p as it reported wider first-half losses as revenue slumped amid travel restrictions that weighed on demand. The budget airline said it expected capacity levels to pick up from June onwards. For the half-year ended 31 March, pre-tax losses widened by 82.7% to £645 million year-on-year as revenue slumped 89.9% to £240 million. Home improvement retailer Kingfisher upgraded its outlook on first-half and annual profit after reporting a jump in sales in the first quarter of the year as strong demand continued. The company now expected mid-to-high teens group like-for-like sales growth in H1 21/22, previously 'low double-digit, and anticipate a higher H1 adjusted pre-tax profit, in the range of £580 to 600 million. Its share price dipped 0.5% to 372.9p. Royal Mail's share price gained 1.2% to 531.4p as it announced a 10p one-off dividend on the back of a 116% profits jump for 2020/21. The company has also proposed a progressive future dividend policy, with dividend for 2021-22 set at 20p per share. Subject to retaining a prudent capital structure, the board will not retain excess capital which is unutilised under the capital allocation framework. Asset management company Liontrust today said it had expected revenues to be ahead and adjusted profit pre-tax profit to be 'significantly' ahead of market expectations amid strong than expected performance fee revenue. The company's share price went up 3.5% to reach £15.88 following the update. Bus and rail company FirstGroup said it had agreed new national contracts with the Department for Transport for its South Western Railway and TransPennine Express train operating companies. Its share price rose 0.1% to 82.7p. The directors of Brighton Bidco Limited and the directors of St. Modwen Properties PLC have reached agreement on the proposed acquisition. The terms and conditions of a recommended all cash offer by Bidco for the entire issued, and to be issued, ordinary share capital of St. Modwen is intended to be implemented by way of a scheme arrangement. The announcement sent St Modwen's share price up 1.9% to 544p. Components and solutions provider Essentra said positive momentum seen in the first quarter of the year had continued. The share price rose almost 0.2% to 310.5p. Watches of Switzerland Group has reported an 11.7% increase in its revenue to £905.1 million for the 53 weeks to 2 May 2021. The rise in revenue was driven by the US which the company said has seen "outstanding growth", up 38.5% on the same period in 2020 and 64.8% on 2019. It wasn't enough to provide a boost to the company's share price, which fell 2.1% to 754p. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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