UK stocks open flat as economy ekes out modest growth

Tue, 13th Apr 2021

UK stocks traded sideways early on Tuesday after data showed the local economy grew modestly in February and investors globally remained wary of rising bond yields, tempering vaccine optimism. At 0823, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 3.75 points at 6,885.37. UK gross domestic product rose 0.4% in the month of February, according to the Office for National Statistics, slightly below expectations of a 0.5% rise. In corporate news, defence company Babcock International rallied 22% to 296.2p even after it foreshadowed £1.7 billion of writedowns following a review of its contract profitability and balance sheet. Babcock also announced a sweeping restructure of its business that would see it cut 1,000 jobs, reducing its cost base. Sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion rose 0.7% to 920.2p, having resumed its final dividend, at 1.44p per share, and forecasting a higher annual profit in the current financial year. JD Sports forecast headline pre-tax profit for the year to 29 January 2022 of £475 million-to-£500 million, up from a fall to £421.3 million in the year just gone by. Food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway fattened 1.6% to £74.685 as it reported a 79% jump in orders in the first quarter, led by strong demand in the UK. Just Eat Takeaway said it was sticking to its strategy of prioritising market share over profitability. Recruitment group Hays jumped 4.5% to 166.9p, having lifted its annual profit outlook amid a recovery in net fee income. Hays said its operating profit was expected to be at least £85 million, ahead of the market expectations of about £61 million. Online contracts-for-difference broker Plus500 rose 2.0% to £15.535 even as its first-quarter earnings had almost halved after markets became less volatile. Plus500, however, also forecast a 'moderate' annual earnings and revenue beat. Power-control component manufacturer XP Power firmed 2.1% to £48.90 as its first-quarter revenue rose 16%, though orders had nudged only 1% higher. XP Power recommended a first-quarter dividend of 18p per share. It didn't pay a dividend for the previous corresponding period. Fashion retailer Quiz rose 4.0% to 12.48p despite announcing that its annual revenue had slumped 66%, due to Covid-related store closures and a drop in demand for occasionwear because social events were curtailed. Quiz said 36 stores and 87 concessions in England and Wales were now reopened and that it was anticipated stores and concessions in Scotland and Northern Ireland to reopen on 26 April. Online women's fashion retailer Sosandar added 2.1% to 19.78p on announcing that said it expected to narrow annual operating losses by 60%. amid a 35% rise in sales. Cocktail bar owner Revolution Bars climbed 0.8% to 30.65p even as it booked a deeper first-half loss after sales were hammered by the pandemic and associated lockdowns. Revolution Bars said it was planning for outdoor trading from 12 April from 20 bars, indoor trading from 17 May from all sites in England, and unrestricted trading from 21 June. Fund management services company JTC shed 3.3% to 620p, having reported a fall in annual profit as higher costs related to its acquisition of NESF offset a rise in revenue. Healthcare services provider Totally rallied 13% to 34.8p as it guided for a rise in annual operating earnings that exceeded its original expectations. Pharmaceutical company Open Orphan gained 2.6% to 46.16p on announcing that it was planning to spin off certain non-core development intellectual property assets. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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