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FTSE down 1.2% as inflation fears bite

Wed, 19th May 2021

Global inflation worries, with UK consumer prices rising faster than expected in April, kept markets on the back foot on Wednesday with the FTSE 100 closing down 1.2% to 6,950.20. By 4.30pm UK time the US S&P 500 index was 1% lower at 4,084.86. Premier Foods dipped 0.2% to 102.2p, having declared a dividend for the first time in 13 years after its annual profit more than doubled. The maker of Mr Kipling cakes and Bisto gravy enjoyed high demand for groceries during lockdowns that helped it reduce a large debt pile. It recommended a final dividend of 1p per share. Specialist media group Future rallied 11.5% to £26.70 as it forecast full-year results 'materially' ahead of market expectations, after its first-half profit more than doubled. Future said that while it remained cautious around wider macroeconomic uncertainties associated with the pandemic, its third quarter had started ahead of management expectations. Water utility Severn Trent fell 4% to £24 as it launched a £250 million equity raising to help it fund six new UK projects. Severn Trent also booked a 14% fall in annual profit owing to lower demand during Covid lockdowns. The price of the share placing and retail offer would be determined by a bookbuild process. Information services company Experian fell 2.2% to £25.73, even as it reported a 14% rise in annual profit thanks to strong growth in its consumer services business. Experian held its interim dividend steady at 47c per share and guided for 11-to-13% revenue growth in the current financial year. Homewares retailer Dunelm climbed 7.1% to £15.63 after it upgraded annual guidance citing strong sales growth since its stores re-opened. Dunelm was now expecting pre-tax profit 'in excess of £148 million' compared with the current estimate range of £128 million to £134 million. Pub owner Marston's slipped 5.4% to 90.2p as it swung to a full-year profit, thanks to proceeds from the sale of its beer assets, though it posted deep losses at the underlying level, pinned on the pandemic. Marston's said all of its pubs had reopened by 17 May and that it had seen early indications of strong customer demand. Fellow pub company Mitchells & Butlers shed 1.1% to 306.6p, having also racked up some deep losses. Mitchells & Butlers said almost all of its sites were now open, trading indoors and outdoors. Consultancy company Science Group jumped 12.1% to 392.4p after it guided for an around 30% rise in first-half operating profit following a good start to 2021 at all three of its divisions. Science Group also said it had decided to retain its recently acquired Frontier business and terminate related sale talks. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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