London midday: Stocks gain as Rolls-Royce, Ashtead rally

London stocks were still in the black by midday on Thursday, having taken their cue from a positive session on Wall Street, with a strong showing from the likes of Rolls-Royce and Ashtead lending support.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.5% at 7,048.52.

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: “The generally positive opening was led by some strength within cyclical shares, although the moves were unconvincing. The indices nonetheless remain ahead in the year to date, with the FTSE 100 having added 9% and the FTSE 250 14.8%.

“Even so, with the known issues now on the table and potentially priced in, the next catalysts could either come from renewed signs of a global economic bounceback, or the third quarter reporting season providing positive shocks in the first weeks of October.”

On the macroeconomic front, investors were eyeing the release of US retail sales data for August later in the day.

In equity markets, Rolls-Royce was the standout gainer, boosted by the Aukus defence pact agreed between the US, UK and Australia.

Ashtead rallied as it said its annual performance would beat its previous expectations as the equipment hire company reported a 53% increase in operating profit for the first quarter.

Premium drinks company C&C fizzed higher after saying it has returned to profitability as Covid restrictions have eased.

DIY retailer Wickes, which recently demerged from Travis Perkins, was trading up after saying it now expects full-year profit towards the upper end of market expectations, as it reported better-than-expected interim profits.

Hilton Food advanced after it increased its interim dividend by 17% as the food packaging company reported a strong first half, driven by its Australian operation.

Drax powered to the top of the FTSE 250 after Barclays hiked its price target by 75% to 960p, implying 120% upside potential. The bank said that since its last update in May 2020, there have been notable improvements to the Drax investment story but little change to the share price.

“We believe the current price is an attractive entry point,” it said.

On the downside, Games Workshop was sharply lower as it said trading for the three months to 29 August was in line with the board’s expectations and declared a dividend, but warned over pressure on freight costs and currency exchange rates.

Homewares retailer Dunelm was under the cosh as it traded without entitlement to the dividend, while Britvic was knocked lower by a rating downgrade at Deutsche Bank.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,048.52 0.46%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 23,565.50 0.57%
techMARK (TASX) 4,660.79 0.82%

FTSE 100 – Risers

Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 110.24p 4.49%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 6,088.00p 4.00%
Flutter Entertainment (CDI) (FLTR) 15,020.00p 3.80%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 140.80p 2.68%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,480.50p 2.21%
Entain (ENT) 1,928.50p 2.09%
Royal Mail (RMG) 494.30p 2.02%
Informa (INF) 524.80p 2.02%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,254.00p 2.01%
Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 4,172.00p 2.00%

FTSE 100 – Fallers

Anglo American (AAL) 2,880.00p -2.49%
Fresnillo (FRES) 832.40p -1.84%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,133.00p -1.65%
BHP Group (BHP) 2,010.50p -1.28%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,130.00p -1.01%
Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 6,253.00p -0.86%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,333.00p -0.86%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,453.50p -0.85%
Glencore (GLEN) 338.30p -0.62%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,586.00p -0.54%

FTSE 250 – Risers

Drax Group (DRX) 471.00p 7.39%
easyJet (EZJ) 594.80p 5.09%
C&C Group (CDI) (CCR) 236.60p 4.69%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 328.80p 4.38%
Reach (RCH) 396.00p 4.21%
Hilton Food Group (HFG) 1,138.00p 4.02%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 4,879.00p 3.94%
Apax Global Alpha Limited (APAX) 225.00p 3.69%
IP Group (IPO) 141.40p 3.51%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 860.50p 3.49%

FTSE 250 – Fallers

Dunelm Group (DNLM) 1,423.00p -5.64%
Games Workshop Group (GAW) 11,130.00p -4.05%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 104.20p -3.87%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 333.60p -3.75%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 147.30p -2.77%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 46.14p -2.72%
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 326.00p -2.54%
Britvic (BVIC) 905.50p -2.48%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 252.40p -2.09%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 213.70p -1.66%

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