FTSE 100 recovers to trade just short of 7,000

Wed, 21st Jul 2021

Hopes that central banks might maintain support for the global economy for longer given mounting Covid infections plus a string of positive corporate updates helped the FTSE 100 surge 1.7% to close just below 7,000. The recovery from a bruising start to the week was also supported by a solid start to trading on Wall Street with the S&P 500 up 0.6% to 4,347.63. Fashion retailer Next jumped 8.3% to £80.05 after upgrading its annual guidance and pledging special dividends, having enjoyed a stronger-than-expected sales performance so far in the second quarter. Next's pre-tax profit for the year through January, on a pre-IFRS 16 basis, was now expected at £750 million at the 'central' guidance level, up from previous guidance given in May of £720 million. Next said surplus cash for the full year was forecast to be £240 million, to be distributed through special dividends during the current financial year, the first to be paid in September. Specialist media platform Future rallied 9.4% to £35.12, having guided for a full-year profit 'materially ahead' of current market expectations. Future cited robust digital advertising revenue and ongoing eCommerce product affiliate revenue growth, plus a recovery in magazine sales. Elsewhere, letter and parcel delivery group Royal Mail reversed 3.2% to 513.6p, even as its first-quarter revenue grew 13% and it said its prospects for the full year were unchanged. Compared to two years earlier, Royal Mail's revenue had risen 20%. Mining company BHP gained 2.8% to £22.49 after Bloomberg News reported that it was mulling a $15 billion exit from its oil and gas business, citing sources familiar with the plans. Fellow miner Rio Tinto added 2.6% to £59.85 after it agreed with community members in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea to assess the environmental and human rights impacts of the the Panguna mine, which ceased operating in 1989. Chile-focused copper play Antofagasta rose 4.1% to £14.21, having maintained its annual output guidance despite reporting a fall in production for the second quarter, owing to lower grades. Information services provider Euromoney Institutional Investor rose 1.2% to £10.14 as it reported a 14% rise in third-quarter revenue, led by growth in its subscription business. Looking ahead to full-year 2021, Euromoney said it remained 'confident' of delivering a result in line with its expectations. Technology company Computacenter climbed 5.5% to £25.96 as it touted 'substantial growth' for 2021 after forecasting first-half adjusted pre-tax profit to be about 50% up year-on-year. Wickes, the DIY chain recently spun out of Travis Perkins, gained 2.0% to 252p on announcing that its first-half sales had risen 33% year-on-year, while sticking to its profit guidance. Wickes said its adjusted pre-tax profit for the six months through 26 June was still expected to be around £45 million. Defence technology group QinetiQ slipped 1.5% to 336.4p as it announced that it still expected to post annual revenue growth in the mid single digits. QinetiQ said its visibility on revenue under contract for the full year had risen to £940 million, up from £800 million in April 2021. Russia-focused gold miner Petropavlovsk firmed 2% to 21.7p even as its output sank 39% in the first half, as expected, with a higher gold price partially offsetting the blow. Petropavlovsk's production for the six months through June dropped to 195,000 ounces, though the company stuck to annual guidance of 430,000-to-470,000 ounces. Infection prevention products group Tristel slumped 5.4% to 624.5p, despite nudging up its annual profit guidance after the rate of hospital admissions for non-Covid-related conditions began to recover. Tristel, however, also announced that it would write off the value of an equity investment in a medical device company focussed on women's health to the tune of £0.8 million. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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