FTSE closes higher with US markets shut

Mon, 17th Feb 2020

UK stocks gained ground on Monday after China moved to buffer its economy from the coronavirus hit by cutting interest rates on medium-term loans. European markets mirrored the UK's gains with France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX both up around 0.3%, with modest gains for the euro and dollar. US markets were closed for Presidents' Day. The UK's benchmark FTSE 100 index closed 0.33% higher to 7,433.25. LARGE AND MID CAP RISERS AND FALLERS Asset manager Jupiter Fund Management gained 8.4% to 430p on confirming press speculation that it was in 'advanced' talks to acquire rival Merian, for at least £370m in shares. Tullow Oil shed 2.7% to 44p after an exploration well off the coast of Peru, in which it had a 35% non-operating stake, failed to discover significant hydrocarbons. Fellow oil and gas explorer Cairn Energy gained 0.4% to 179.2p after it and Italian partner Eni had better luck with the drill bit off the coast of Mexico. Gulf region focused hospital owner NMC Health increased 3.2% to 800p, having announced the departure of three more directors, including its chairman and its chief investment officer. The exodus came after NMC Health recently admitted that it wasn't sure how many shares in the company its chairman and some other of its directors actually owned. Gambling company William Hill dipped 0.4% to 180p on news that it had appointed DS Smith finance head Adrian Marsh as its new chief financial officer. DS Smith fell 2% to 359p. House builder Persimmon gained 0.5% to £32.47, having appointed Bank of England chief operating officer Joanna Place as a new independent non-executive director. SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS Retailer Laura Ashley tumbled 41.5% to 1.9p having confirmed lender Wells Fargo and majority shareholder MUI Asia Limited are in talks regarding its immediate funding needs. The statement accompanied a trading update in which it revealed first half sales slumped 11%. Petra Diamonds dropped 16.9% to 6.95p after it booked a first-half loss, warned of a slower start to the year and said it was negotiating debt covenant waivers with its lenders. The company also said the coronavirus outbreak was having a negative impact on the diamond market, forcing it to downgrade its medium-term cash flow forecasts. Platinum group metals producer Sylvania Platinum soared 8.16% to 53p after it posted a rise in first-half profit on the back of higher production, but also announced the departure of its chief executive. Complex cable supplier Volex gained 4% to 154p on announcing that all four of its sites in China had resumed operations, though at reduced capacity. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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