FTSE dragged lower by weak banks

Wed, 26th May 2021

After earlier gains the FTSE 100 was down 0.2% at 7,014.31 by midday with banks losing ground as central bankers continue to pour cold water on the idea of rate rises which could give their profitability a boost. Private hospital group Spire Healthcare surged 26% to 243.5p on announcing that it had agreed to be acquired by Australia's Ramsay Health Care for £999.6 million. Spire shareholders would receive 240p per share, a 24% premium to the company's latest closing price before the deal was announced. Inhaled-treatment focused Vectura rallied 31% to 160.01p after it agreed to be acquired by by US investment firm Carlyle Group for about £958 million. Vectura shareholders would receive 136p per share, representing a 32% premium to the company's closing price of 103p on Tuesday. Private healthcare group Mediclinic International, which owns 29.9% of Spire, rose 5.7% to 326p. Mediclinic swung to a full-year profit as impairment charges fell, though its underlying performance was dented by lower revenue as elective procedures were postponed during the pandemic. Elsewhere, clothing and food group Marks & Spencer advanced 7.3% to 167.25p, even as it posted yet another full-year loss as the pandemic weighed on sales. Marks & Spencer insisted that it was continuing to make progress on a long transformation effort in the face of relentless pressure from online and fast-fashion retailers. Gambling technology group Playtech climbed 0.8% to 458.8p on news that it had agreed to sell financial trading division Finalto to a consortium led by Barinboim for up to $210 million. Playtech also said it was confident in its prospects for the full year after strong online growth offset the impact of extended lockdowns in Italy. Power utility SSE fell 0.8% to £15.37, despite having reported a rise in annual profit at the midpoint of its guidance range and upping its dividend in line with a five-year payout plan. SSE declared a final dividend of 56.6p per share, making for a full-year payout of 81p. IT group Softcat jumped 5.4% to £19.01 as it upgraded its annual earnings guidance, though it also warned of a flat performance in the following financial year. Softcat noted that cost savings related to Covid were expected to reverse as it entered the next financial year, and that it had recently notched a number of large deals that were one-off in nature. Property group British Land slid 1.9% to 510p as it racked up a £1.05 billion annual pre-tax loss, driven by a fall in asset valuations, lower like-for-like rental income and provisions for outstanding rents. British Land declared a full-year dividend 15.04p per share, down 15.97p year-on-year. Quality assurance provider Intertek shed 4.9% to £56.56, even as it said it was track to meet full-year targets as revenue grew in the first four months of the year. Intertek's like-for-like revenue for the four months through April grew 2.7%, with the products division delivering growth of 7.4%. Cider maker C&C sank 14% to 262p, having swung to an annual loss as the pandemic reduced on-trade demand from the hospitality sector, resulting in a sharp fall in revenue and rise in costs. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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