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UK markets close fractionally higher as BT take-public plan unsettles investors but firm US lends support

Fri, 15th Nov 2019

UK stocks closed Friday modestly higher as investor caution was offset by a firm opening for US stocks on Wall Street. Friday was a changeable session for UK investors with the benchmark FTSE 100 index bobbing and weaving between minor losses and small gains, prompted by data that shows that Hong Kong has plunged into recession after months of political unrest. The FTSE 100 index closed roughly 6 points higher on Friday at 7,298.43 having earlier rallied 20-odd points as investors latched onto White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow's comment that current US/China negotiations are 'very constructive'. But gains were eroded as investors had their nerves jangled by the shock nationalisation pledge from Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell regarding BT and its Openreach infrastructure arm to support free broadband to Brits nationwide. BT shares initially declined on Friday, rallying briefly only to fall again, down 2.2% at 193p at the close. The Labour plan would have wide consequences for many internet service suppliers, which may explain TalkTalk's stock shedding 3% to 105.6p despite swinging to a first-half profit, albeit of just £1m. New broadband customers helped it boost operating profits. FIRM RESOURCES Miners remain in demand, led by Antofagasta's 2.5% rally to 882.6p, following by Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP. Mining titan Rio Tinto, up 1.5% to £41.545, lost some of its earlier strength as it said it would support Energy Resources of Australia's $324m fund raising to rehabilitate the Ranger project area in Australia's Northern Territory, in which Rio has a 68.4% stake. Premier Inn hotels operator Whitbread tops the FTSE 100 leader board on Friday, adding close on 5% at £43.86, while Coca-Cola HBC was the largest faller, off 3% to £24.76 as investors absorbed new debt issues. Pharmaceutical bellwether AstraZeneca dipped 1% to £72.48, having announced that its drug to improve glucose levels in adults with type-2 diabetes had been approved by the European Commission. Specialist media platform Future rallied nearly 3% to £14.92 as it lifted its outlook for the current financial year as its annual profit more than doubled, led by growth in its media division. Struggling construction business Kier made 1.7% gains to 89.15p as shareholders voted down a board pay deal at its AGM. RUG PULLED FROM UNDER Struggling flooring retailer Carpetright jumped 15% to 4.87p on news that it agreed to be acquired by Meditor European Master Fund in a deal that valued the company at £15.2m. Video game developer Sumo jumped 6.5% to 164p after it revealed that Chinese internet giant Tencent had bought a 9.6% interest in the company from existing shareholder Perwyn. Rival video game group Team17 stayed flat at 325.5p as it announced that chief financial officer Jo Jones had decided to leave the company to take up another role elsewhere. Jones would be replaced on an interim basis by Mark Crawford on 22 November. Residential development finance provider Urban Exposure added 9% to 61.5p after it said it had received 'a number of additional proposals' regarding its future, without elaborating. The company had earlier in November said it received an outline restructuring proposal from R20 Advisory, involving a special dividend, rights issue, the externalisation of its management team into a separate vehicle and the company's conversion to an investment group. Hostel group Safestay firmed nearly 5% to 33.5p as it acquired Hotel Auberge in central Berlin for €1.2m. The property was currently operating as a 32-bedroom hotel and 'ideally suited' to being converted into a 150-bed hostel, Safestay said. Energy group Parkmead gained 6.5% to 41.55p as it swung to a full-year profit, buoyed higher gas output from the Diever West field in the Netherlands. Marketing company for the online gambling sector Veltyco collapsed after announcing that it was exploring additional funding sources and looking to cut costs amid a slump in marketing activities. Veltyco said its ability to continue as a going concern would be materially impacted if trading deteriorated further and it was not able to secure further funding. The company's share price crashed 48% to 188p, valuing the minnow at just £1.5m. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

FTSE 100 Latest
Value7,233.90
Change-5.76