FTSE 100 struggles for gains at midday as Tesco drags

Wed, 14th Apr 2021

Leading UK stocks continued to struggle at lunchtime on Wednesday with the benchmark FTSE 100 failing to find any real momentum as Wall Street hit new highs overnight, offsetting a disappointing earnings release from Tesco. At 12.45pm, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 8 points, or 0.1%, at 6,899.35. Supermarket group Tesco fell 2.5% to 226 as it reported a 20% drop in annual profit after rising grocery sales were offset by lower fuel sales, costs associated with adapting to the pandemic and a writedown at its banking operation. Tesco held its annual dividend steady at 9.15p per share, while forecasting a 'strong improvement in profitability' in the current financial year. EasyJet ascended 3.3% to 954p, having forecast a slightly narrower loss than expected amid efforts to cut costs by limiting flying capacity, which it expected to increase from late May onwards. EasyJet's headline pre-tax loss for the three months through March was expected in the range of £690 million-to-£730 million, with revenue down 90% to £235 million. Defence equipment supplier QinetiQ jumped 9% to 349p on upgrading its annual guidance, citing stronger orders and margins in the fourth quarter. QinetiQ said it now expected to post an underlying operating profit for the year through March of at least £147 million. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca added 2% to £72.93 after its lung cancer drug was approved in China, a late-stage study showing it had cut the risk of disease recurrence or death by 80%. Recruitment company Robert Walters climbed 6% to 675p on announcing that its first-quarter gross profit had fallen 12%, but was nevertheless ahead of expectations, while upgrading its guidance for the full year. Real estate company British Land edged back less than 0.1% to 509p after it collected 82% of total rent for fiscal 2021. Rival property group Great Portland Estates shed 0.3% to 694.55p as it collected 84% of rent for the year, with collections in the final quarter ahead of all four previous quarters. Build-to-rent and student accommodation developer Watkin Jones reversed earlier gains to drift 0.5% lower at 228p after it guided for a first-half operating profit slightly down year-on-year, but in line with its expectations. Industrial chain maker Renold rallied 6% to 23.04p on announcing that its annual revenue had fallen 13%, though trading had improved in the latter part of the year. Renold's fourth-quarter order intake rose 10% year-on-year, though revenue fell 8.3%, held back by constraints on global supply chains emerging from the pandemic. At 12:56pm: (LON:EZJ) Easyjet PLC share price was 0p at 736.4p (LON:QQ.) Qinetiq Group PLC share price was 0p at 310.6p (LON:RNO) Renold PLC share price was 0p at 11.85p (LON:RWA) Robert Walters PLC share price was 0p at 430p (LON:TSCO) Tesco PLC share price was 0p at 224.7p Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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