UK stocks hold onto gains on trade deal optimism

Mon, 25th Nov 2019

UK stocks got off to a strong start on Monday amid rising hopes that the US and China were closing in on a trade truce. At 4.30pm the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 67 points or 0.9%, at 7,394. Optimism was sparked by US national security adviser Robert O'Brien saying over the weekend that an initial trade agreement with China was still possible by the end of the year. The strongest sectors were chemicals, electronic equipment, engineering, industrial metals, industrial services and technology hardware. BIG- AND MID-CAP MOVERS Best-performing stock on the FTSE 100 was UAE-based healthcare provider NMC Health, up 6.5% to £26.18, while the worst performer was gold and silver miner Fresnillo which dropped 3.3% to 543p. Another big gainer was Burberry which gained 3% to £20.93 on positive sentiment towards the luxury goods sector after LVMH's successful $16.2bn bid for US rival Tiffany. Food and clothing retailer Marks & Spencer jumped 4.5% to 200.5p on the news that Richard Price, currently head of Tesco's F&F clothing division, would become boss of M&S's clothing and home business next year. Meanwhile online clothing retailer ASOS reversed earlier losses to gain 0.9% to £31.39 after it announced Robert Birge as its first chief growth officer. Birge had recently served as an executive and adviser for various tech start-ups including US online healthcare firm Blink Health, and was previously chief marketing officer of travel site Kayak and media agency IMG. Food-delivery company Just Eat added 0.6% to 757p after it officially rejected a 710p a share takeover offer from Prosus, saying that it was inferior to a rival bid from Takeaway.com. SMALL-CAP MOVERS Fresh cream cakes retailer Cake Box rose 10.4% to 153p after it announced a 27% rise in first-half profit driven by the rollout of new stores and buoyant sales from existing outlets. Billing and customer management service provider Cerillion climbed 4.3% to 194p as its annual profit rose by more than a third, led by revenue growth in its software division. Live data company WANdisco gained 6.1% to 366p on announcing that it would raise around $16.5m from a share issue to support its relationships with cloud partners and provide growth working capital. New shares in the company would be issued at 425p each, a 23% premium to their closing price on Friday. NewRiver REIT firmed 4.5% to 188p on announcing that it had exchanged contracts to acquire Sprucefield Retail Park in Lisburn, Northern Ireland from Intu Properties for £40m. German property investor Sirius Real Estate gained 3.4% to €0.9 after it raised its dividend by 8.6% amid an improved profit performance in the first half. Gambling technology supplier Sportech dropped 0.6% to 32.6p, having raised its guidance for annual adjusted operating earnings after cost cuts came in ahead of expectations. Information business Euromoney Investors fell 1% to £12.65 on announcing that it had acquired Wealth-X, a data source about wealthy individuals, for $20.4m or more than 20 times this year's EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation). Construction company Northern Bear shed 3.4% to 70.5p as it reported a 22% fall in first-half profit owing to contracting delays, though it said its performance had picked up in the second quarter. Chemicals company investor Wilmcote collapsed 49.5p or 94% to 3p after it reported a first-half loss and said it was planning a £6.5m re-capitalisation on the basis of 31.2 new shares for every existing share, more or less wiping out existing holders. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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