FTSE closes up 0.6% as sterling remains jittery on Brexit

Tue, 22nd Dec 2020

By the close on Tuesday the FTSE 100 was materially higher, gaining 0.6% to 6,453.16 with sterling enduring an up and down afternoon as traders try to work out the chances of a last-minute Brexit deal. In the US the S&P 500 was broadly flat by 4.30pm UK time. In mildly positive economic news, UK gross domestic product in the third quarter rose 16.6%, according to a 'final' reading from the Office for National Statistics, above a preliminary reading of 15.5%. Telecom group Vodafone slipped 0.4% to 121.5p after it offered to buy out minority shareholders in German outfit Kabel Deutschland for €2.12 billion, at €103 per share. Vodafone had acquired 76.8% of Kabel Deutschland in 2013 and said the fresh bid would reduce its exposure to legal proceedings related to the initial deal. Furniture retailer DFS Furniture surged 10.5% to 232p as it guided for full-year profit within the upper end of market expectations. DFS said its pre-tax profit, before brand amortisation, would be towards the top of a £81.2 million to £118.0 million range. Budget airline EasyJet climbed 3.2% to 781.5p, having struck an agreement with Airbus to defer the delivery of 22 aircraft out to the 2027 and 2028 financial years. Mining engineering company Weir ticked up 0.6% to £19.53 on announcing that completion of a planned $405 million sale of its oil and gas division to Caterpillar was expected to push into the first quarter of 2021. Weir had previously said completion of the deal by the end of this year was dependent on the receipt of all regulatory clearances, some of which had been disrupted by the pandemic. Renewable energy investor The Renewable Infrastructure Group fell 0.2% to 125.6p after it agreed to invest in a portfolio of French wind and solar projects, for an undisclosed sum. The portfolio comprised five onshore wind farms in Northern France with a combined capacity of 74 megawatts and four operational solar parks with 29 megawatts of combined capacity. Building materials distributor Grafton rose 0.6% to 913.5p following news that it had acquired Ireland-based Proline Architectural Hardware, an architectural ironmongery products distributor, for an undisclosed sum. Proline reported revenue of €10.8 million (£9.8 million) in 2019. Real estate investor UK Commercial Property REIT fell 1.2% to 63.9p following news that it had snapped up an Asda supermarket in Torquay, Devon, from Aviva Investors for £16.6 million. UKCM said it also had agreed to forward fund the development of a student accommodation asset at 41-45 Gilmore Place in central Edinburgh for £29.1 million. Vehicle retailer Motorpoint surrendered earlier gains to trade a smidge lower at 280p on news that it had appointed Chris Morgan as chief financial officer, effective 11 January. Morgan was formerly finance director at rental group Speedy Hire and also had held senior finance leadership positions at Go Outdoors and Tesco. Pharmaceutical services group Open Orphan climbed 0.9% to 23p after it secured a contract extension from a 'major top-three global pharmaceutical client' to December 2021. Open Orphan said the win underpinned its confidence in generating significantly higher revenue in 2021. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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