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FTSE subdued at noon despite reopening optimism

Mon, 12th Apr 2021

UK stocks were slightly lower by lunchtime on Monday, even as local restaurants, bars and other non-essential businesses began to reopen, with investor sentiment uncertain amid global jitters over rising bond yields and lofty stock valuations. By lunchtime, London's blue chip benchmark index was down 22 points, or 0.32%, at 6,893.84, with high street names weakening on reopening day as investors decided to 'sell the fact'. Shopping centre owner Hammerson cheapened 2.4% to 36.5p after it confirmed press speculation that it was in talks about a possible sale of its retail parks portfolio to Brookfield. Pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca edged 0.2% higher to £72.73 after it said its diabetes drug Farxiga did not improve the condition of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 in a clinical trial. Mining giant BHP fell 0.9% to £23.32 on confirming that its Samarco joint venture in Brazil with Vale had filed for bankruptcy protection after failing to agree terms on a debt restructure. The joint venture is facing legal action following the collapse of a tailings dam in 2015 that killed 19 people and polluted waterways. Tobacco giant Imperial Brands added 0.6% to £15.51 on announcing that Lukas Paravicini would join as chief financial officer earlier than expected, on 19 May. Freight manager Xpediator rallied 3.1% to 58.5p as it hiked its divided on the back of an 81% rise in annual profit, and said it had performed ahead of expectations in the 2021 first quarter. Xpediator declared a full-year dividend of 1.5p per share, up 13% year-on-year. German business park investor Sirius Real Estate edged 1.4% higher to 95.2p as its annual rent roll rose 7.6% and it collected more than 98% of rent due for the year. Student accommodation provider Unite improved 0.9% to £10.94 on announcing that 73% of rooms were now reserved for the 2021/22 academic year across its entire portfolio. Unite said the deficit in sales to the prior year was continuing to narrow over recent weeks. Brake-disc manufacturer Surface Transforms reversed 3.4% to 70.5p, having booked a full-year loss after spending on research & development offset a broadly flat revenue performance. Surface Transforms said it was targeting a full-year profit in 2022. Flooring manufacturer Victoria firmed 2.3% to 900p on guiding for a modest rise in annual adjusted earnings underpinned by a boost in sales. Ingredients supplier Treatt sweetened up 4.2% to 998p as it said it expected to grow its first-half revenue by 14%, while also achieving an improvement in margins. Broadcast market equipment supplier The Vitec Group gained 0.4% to £11.55 after it acquired two separate companies, Lightstream and Quasar, for up to $42 million (£30.4 million). Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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