FTSE 100 surges as bond concerns ease

Mon, 8th Mar 2021

Improving investor sentiment in the US where the recent concern about inflation and resulting volatility in the bond market seemed to be easing helped fire the FTSE 100 to strong gains on Monday afternoon. By the close the FTSE 100 was up 1.3% to 6,719.13 while the S&P 500 was up 0.6% to 3,866.72. Educational publisher and services group Pearson gained 6.4% to 808.8p as it posted a rise in annual profit owing to the sale of a stake in publisher Penguin Random House and lower restructuring charges. Pearson's underlying earnings, however, fell after the pandemic led to school closures and disrupted exam schedules. The company held its annual dividend steady at 19.5p per share and announced a refreshed strategy under new CEO Andrew Bird. Enterprise software group Micro Focus International dipped 0.4% to 487.5p, recovering from earlier heavier losses, after a jury ruled against it in a US patent infringement case. Micro Focus said the decision could see it incur at least $172.5 million in damages. It was planning to appeal any judgement related to the jury's decision. Insurance company Direct Line fell 1.8% to 314.5p despite a full-year loss driven by higher claims, after it announced a £100 million share buyback programme. Direct Line also upped its final divided by 2.1% to 14.7p per share. Fellow insurer Phoenix gained 3.1% to 749.6p as it posted a large rise in annual profit after higher premium revenue and lower expenses helped offset a fall in investment income. Phoenix also beat its cash generation targets and declared a 3% rise in its final dividend to 24.1p per share, bringing the full-year payout to 47.5p per share, up 1.5% year-on-year. Telecom group BT fell 2.9% to 137.3p, having denied a Sky News report claiming that chief executive Peter Jansen had forced the departure of chairman Jan du Plessis, by threatening to resign if du Plessis didn't go. BT said that any suggestion that du Plessis had impeded the transformation of BT was without foundation. Domino's Pizza firmed 0.6% to 310.4p after it sold Swedish assets to fellow shareholder in the assets Eyja fjarfestingafelag. Domino's would pay the buyer €2 million as part of the deal. Refractory products supplier RHI Magnesita rose 1.1% to £40.98 despite posting an 79% drop in annual profit, as its sales slumped during the pandemic. RHI Magnesita, however, upped its dividend to €1.50 per share, citing a recovery in demand and its cash position. Shipping services provider Clarkson fell 1.9% to £25.70, even as it booked a full-year loss than was nevertheless shallower than feared. Clarkson upped its final dividend by a penny to 54p per share, taking the full year dividend to 79p, up from 78p Footwear retailer Shoe Zone dropped 9.1% to 68p, having swung to a full-year loss and scrapped its dividend as the pandemic and associated lockdowns crunched sales. Shoe Zone also announced the appointment of Terry Boot as finance director following the recent departure of Peter Foot, who had only spent seven months in the role. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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Value6,978.74
Change-21.34