FTSE opens flat as investors brace for Sunak's budget

Wed, 27th Oct 2021

UK stocks opened flat on Wednesday, hovering around 20-months highs, as investors awaited the afternoon release of chancellor Rishi Sunak's autumn budget. At 0820, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down just 1.37 points at 7,276.25. DIY group Wickes shed 1.7% to 222.2p as its third-quarter sales slipped 1.6% year-on-year, though it stuck to its full-year profit guidance. Wickes' said its sales for the three months through September were always expected to moderate as it cycled tough 2020 comparatives. Compared to the same period in 2019, its sales were up 16%. Technology consultancy Aveva fell 0.6% to £36.18 even as it said its operating earnings had improved in the first half, thanks to stronger sales. Aveva said its revenue for the three months through September on an organic constant-currency basis had risen 9%, though added this growth was partially offset by FX headwinds. Mining company Fresnillo dropped 2.2% to 866.12p, having reported a fall in third-quarter silver and gold production, driven by lower ore grades and recovery rates. Fresnillo, however, said it was on track to meet its full-year guidance. Book publisher Bloomsbury rallied 4.8% after sales of bestsellers such as Tom Kerridge's 'Outdoor Cooking' and Susanna Clarke's 'Piranesi'  saw its profits more than triple to £11.1 million. Bloomsbury declared an interim dividend of 1.34p per share, up 5% year-on-year. Home repairs group HomeServe rose 2.4% to 851p on news that it had acquired UK home emergency assistance business CET Structures for about £53 million. CET provided emergency plumbing, heating and electrics services to home insurance policy holders on behalf of consumer brands. Gulf country focused payments group Network International reversed 0.7% to 364.9p despite announcing that its third-quarter revenue rose by almost a fifth, while sticking to its full-year guidance. Network International's revenue for the three months through September rose 19% year-on-year, but was down 1% compared to the same period two years' prior. Telemetric services provider to the hospitality sector Vianet firmed 6.2% to 98.8p on announcing that it would soon reinstate its dividend following a 55% jump in its first-half revenue. Vianet said it expected to reinstate a dividend in July for its 2022 financial year, subject to no further lockdowns or restrictions on the hospitality sector and no deterioration of semi-conductor supply. Technology solutions provider Accesso Technology jumped 8.1% to 919p after it upgraded its revenue outlook. Accesso Technology was now expecting revenue for 2021 to be no less than $124 million, with operating margins above 20%. Conveyancing platform ULS Technology gained 4.7% to 73.5p on announcing that it expected to provide smaller-than-expected losses for the first half amid a bounce back in sales. Revenue from continuing operations for the six months through September was seen rising by around 45% to £10.2 million, with underlying pre-tax losses were expected to be about £1.5 million. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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