FTSE opens 0.7% higher as Trump accepts Biden transition

Tue, 24th Nov 2020

UK stocks opened higher on Tuesday after US president Donald Trump accepted that a formal transition of power should begin for president-elect Joe Biden. Trump's move cooled fears of more unrest in the lead up to Biden's inauguration, adding to a recent bout of market optimism fueled by positive Covid-19 vaccine news. At 0825, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 43.02 points, or 0.7%, at 6,376.86. Insurance company Phoenix lost 1.2% to 774.6p even as it confirmed press speculation that it was mulling a sale of its European businesses. Phoenix said it had recently received expressions of interest in the assets from third parties. Water utility Pennon fell 0.6% to 997.8p after it posted a large rise in first-half profit owing to a gain on the sale of its Viridor waste management division, though its underlying profit slumped 48%. Pennon halved its interim dividend to 6.77p, down from 13.66p year-on-year, and said it would prefer to spend the Viridor sale proceeds on the UK water sector, with capital returned to shareholders 'if a compelling value creating opportunity is not available'. Building materials supplier CRH firmed 1.8% to £30.01, having reported improved earnings despite a slip in sales, thanks to stronger margins. CRH's operating earnings for the first nine months of the year rose 2% to $3.4 billion and the company said it expected to post a full-year figure of more than $4.4 billion. Online electrical retailer AO World dropped 7.2% to 389.3p, even as it swung to a first-half profit buoyed by a pandemic-fueled surge in online sales. AO World shares had already run up hard ahead of the results release, having more than quadrupled in value since January. Pet product retailer and veterinary group Pets at Home slid 8.5% to 383.37p despite it posting a 14% rise in first-half profit, while guiding for a flat underlying performance for the full year. Pets at Home's underlying profit slipped 5.1% due to the impact of lockdowns in the first quarter, so its guidance implied it expected a stronger second half. It held its interim dividend steady at 2.5p per share. Healthcare services provider UDG Healthcare rose 4.1% to 780p, having booked a 46% rise in annual profit, while achieving adjusted earnings that beat its previous guidance. UDG Healthcare upped its full-year dividend by 1.2% to $17.00 per share. Meat producer Cranswick firmed 2.8% to £37.26 after its first-half profit was boosted by strong export growth and greater in-home consumption amid the Covid-19 lockdown. Cranswick hiked its interim dividend by 12% to 18.7p per share. Drink and flavouring ingredient supplier Treatt fell 1.6% to 636p, even as it posted a 9.5% rise in annual profit that it said exceeded its pre-Covid expectations. Treatt declared a full-year dividend of 6p per share, up 9.1% year-on-year. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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