UK stocks open 2% higher as Chinese factory data stokes recovery hopes

Tue, 31st Mar 2020

UK stocks opened substantially higher on Tuesday after positive Chinese factory data stoked hopes the world's second-biggest economy was recovering from the Covid-19 crisis, though investors remained on edge as the disease continued to spread elsewhere. At 0822, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 109.89 points, or 2.0%, at 5.673.63. China's manufacturing purchasing managers index jumped to 52.0 in March, up from 35.7 in February. Royal Dutch Shell rose 5.1% to £13.93, even as it warned of impairment charges in the range of $400m-to-$800m in the first quarter following a slump in oil prices, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Engineering company Smiths jumped 7.9% to £12.035, having delayed a demerger of its medical division indefinitely until markets stabilized. Smiths also ruled out paying an interim dividend. Tobacco giant Imperial Brands puffed 6.6% higher to £14.2099 after it secured a new €3.5bn credit facility and said it had experienced no material impact on its performance from Covid-19 to date. Advertising company WPP climbed 5.3% to 543p, even as it suspended its final dividend and a share buyback, citing a recent deterioration in demand that had blighted an otherwise good start to 2020. Pizza delivery chain Domino's Pizza rose 3.9% to 278.8p on the back of news that it had hired former Costa Coffee head Dominic Paul as its new chief executive. Flow control and instrumentation group Rotork shed 1.6% to 219.1p as it cancelled its final dividend, having shuttered factories in Italy, India and Malaysia due to government lockdown measures. Specialist brick manufacturer Michelmersh Brick gained 4.7% to 90.02p after it reported a 61% rise in annual profit, indicating its business was traveling well before the Covid-19 crisis hit. Michelmersh Brick last week deferred all dividend payments, having suspended deliveries at all of its plants due to the pandemic. Specialist product manufacturer Morgan Advanced Materials firmed 2.4% to 193.6p, despite it too joining the dividend cancellation club. Banknote printer De La Rue rallied 10% to 59.1p, having maintained its guidance and confirming continued progress with its turnaround plan. Cybersecurity company Falanx jumped 30% to 0.74p, on announcing that it had received about £1m of new orders in its cybersecurity division between December and mid-February. Falanx said it now expected to deliver 13% growth in revenue to about £5.9m for the year through March 2019. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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