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FTSE almost flat despite strong corporate results

Tue, 13th Apr 2021

UK stocks ended the day barely changed on Tuesday after data showed the local economy grew modestly in February and investors globally remained wary of rising bond yields, tempering vaccine optimism. At the close the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up just 2 points at 6,890 despite a wave of positive earnings reports and strong gains in consumer stocks. UK gross domestic product rose 0.4% in the month of February, according to the Office for National Statistics, slightly below expectations of a 0.5% rise. Food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway was the best performer on the FTSE, up 6.8% to £78.55 as it reported a 79% jump in orders in the first quarter, led by strong demand in the UK. Just Eat Takeaway said it was sticking to its strategy of prioritising market share over profitability. Also among the big-cap risers was sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion, up 3% to 941p, having resumed its final dividend, at 1.44p per share, and forecasting a higher annual profit in the current financial year. JD Sports forecast headline pre-tax profit for the year to 29 January 2022 of £475 million-to-£500 million, up from a fall to £421.3 million in the year just gone by. MID-CAP MOVERS The biggest overall gainer was defence company Babcock International, which closed up a stunning 40% at 339p even after it foreshadowed £1.7 billion of writedowns following a review of its contract profitability and balance sheet. Investors were relieved that the firm ruled out a capital raise to finance the impairment, while short-sellers scrambled to cover their positions causing volumes to spike. Healthcare services provider Totally rallied 17% to 36p as it guided for a rise in annual operating earnings that exceeded its original expectations. Fashion retailer Quiz rose 8.3% to 12.4p despite announcing that its annual revenue had slumped 66%, due to Covid-related store closures and a drop in demand for occasionwear because social events were curtailed. Quiz said 36 stores and 87 concessions in England and Wales were now reopened and that it was anticipated stores and concessions in Scotland and Northern Ireland to reopen on 26 April. Power-control component manufacturer XP Power was another big gainer, up 6.5% to £51.00 as its first-quarter revenue rose 16%, though orders had nudged only 1% higher. XP Power recommended a first-quarter dividend of 18p per share. It didn't pay a dividend for the previous corresponding period. Online women's fashion retailer Sosandar added 5.8% to 21.5p on announcing that said it expected to narrow annual operating losses by 60%. amid a 35% rise in sales. Cocktail bar owner Revolution Bars climbed 5.3% to 32p even as it booked a deeper first-half loss after sales were hammered by the pandemic and associated lockdowns. Revolution Bars said it was planning for outdoor trading from 12 April from 20 bars, indoor trading from 17 May from all sites in England, and unrestricted trading from 21 June. Recruitment group Hays jumped 3.6% to 165p, having lifted its annual profit outlook amid a recovery in net fee income. Hays said its operating profit was expected to be at least £85 million, ahead of the market expectations of about £61 million. Online contracts-for-difference broker Plus500 lost 0.7% to £15.12 as its first-quarter earnings had almost halved after markets became less volatile. The firm also forecast a 'moderate' annual earnings and revenue beat. Fund management services company JTC shed 1.4% to 632p, having reported a fall in annual profit as higher costs related to its acquisition of NESF offset a rise in revenue. Pharmaceutical company Open Orphan sank 1.1% to 44.5p on announcing that it was planning to spin off certain non-core development intellectual property assets. Story provided by

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