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London close: Stocks finish higher amid tentative signs of slowing virus

By Josh White

Date: Wednesday 12 Feb 2020

London close: Stocks finish higher amid tentative signs of slowing virus

(Sharecast News) - Stocks in London finished Wednesday's session above the waterline, with miners pacing the advance as investors took comfort from signs that the coronavirus spread may be slowing.
The FTSE 100 ended the day up 0.47% at 7,534.37, and the FTSE 250 was ahead 0.68% at 21,793.48.

At the same time, the pound was stronger on both of its major pairs, rising 0.19% on the dollar to last trade at $1.2976, and adding 0.39% against the euro to €1.1912.

Joshua Mahony, senior market strategist at IG, said traders had been "emboldened by an optimistic outlook from the top Chinese medical expert, Zhong Nanshan".

"Nanshan speculated that the epidemic could peak by the end of February, with a slowdown in cases providing reason for optimism," he said.

"Interestingly, he also allayed fears over the incubation period, with scientists only finding one case of a 24-day period."

Mahony said commodity-focused firms were on the front foot during the session, with traders heading towards China-focused firms amid a tentative wave of optimism that the coronavirus crisis could have peaked.

"For traders, there will be many seeking to pick the market bottom given the expectation that this crisis will be limited in nature."

In equity markets, miners rallied, with Antofagasta up 4.07%, Anglo American rising 4.92%, Glencore ahead 2.36%, Rio Tinto adding 2.66%, and BHP 2.04% higher.

Anglo American was given an extra boost by an upgrade to 'neutral' from 'sell' at UBS, which said that robust platinum group metals prices underpin the shares.

Rio Tinto was also in focus as it said it will review the future of its unprofitable ISAL aluminium smelter in Iceland, with curtailment and closure among the options.

The miner said the smelter was expected to remain unprofitable in the short to medium term amid "challenging conditions" in the aluminium industry.

It pointed to the smelter's uncompetitive energy costs and historically low aluminium prices.

NMC Health was the standout gainer, adding 9.77% after shareholder Krupa Global Investments (KGI) said a healthcare group in Central and Eastern Europe was interested in taking a strategic stake in the UAE private healthcare provider.

Czech activist investor KGI said it had told NMC the name of the potential investor but chose not to disclose it to the public for now as talks are in progress.

It also said that it was interested in providing financing to co-founder BR Shetty.

Travelex owner Finablr rose 13.88% in tandem with NMC Health, with which it shares a co-founder and chair.

Sanne racked up strong gains, rising 10% after Jefferies initiated coverage of the sock at 'buy'.

"Migration from entrepreneurial specialist to substantial global organisation is rarely smooth and Sanne's experience has been no different," Jefferies said.

"However, execution is improving and our proprietary analysis confirms the industry's attractive fundamentals."

Dunelm was 8.74% higher as the homeware retailer reported a rise in interim profit and said full-year pre-tax profit will be "slightly ahead" of the top of the latest range of analyst expectations.

In the 26 weeks to 28 December, pre-tax profit increased 19.4% to ?83.6m with revenue 6% higher at ?585m, reflecting the benefit of new stores in the current year and the closure of the Worldstore businesses in FY19.

Dunelm said growth was seen across most product categories, including furniture sales, which rose 42% during the half, while like-for-like sales were up 5.6% and the interim dividend was lifted 6.7% to 8p a share.

Elsewhere, Virgin Money was lifted 5.42% by an upgrade to 'buy' at Citi.

On the downside, the previous day's big gainers, TUI and Ocado, were the big fallers, losing 4.36% and 3.59% respectively.

Engineering firm Babcock ended the day down 3.85% after it lowered its full-year profit guidance range due to contract award delays in its aviation division and write downs in oil and gas operations.

The company said it now forecast underlying operating profit of ?540m compared with a previous range of ?540m to ?560m.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,534.37 0.47%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,793.48 0.68%
techMARK (TASX) 4,174.31 0.15%

FTSE 100 - Risers

NMC Health (NMC) 854.20p 9.77%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,153.50p 4.92%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 880.00p 4.07%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 856.40p 3.61%
Evraz (EVR) 405.70p 3.47%
Centrica (CNA) 84.78p 3.24%
Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 8,240.00p 3.00%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,041.00p 2.80%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 5,334.00p 2.77%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 226.70p 2.72%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 925.60p -4.36%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,209.50p -3.59%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,839.00p -2.12%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 240.80p -1.67%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,273.00p -1.62%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,528.00p -1.55%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,406.00p -1.53%
Experian (EXPN) 2,777.00p -1.45%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,666.00p -1.22%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,837.00p -1.10%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Finablr (FIN) 86.55p 13.88%
Sanne Group (SNN) 660.00p 10.00%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 1,306.00p 8.74%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 245.50p 6.74%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 190.70p 5.42%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 247.00p 4.88%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 510.20p 3.89%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 44.60p 3.58%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 150.75p 3.32%
Greencore Group (GNC) 246.90p 3.22%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Babcock International Group (BAB) 535.00p -3.85%
Future (FUTR) 1,198.00p -3.39%
Ascential (ASCL) 380.40p -2.46%
Contour Global (GLO) 186.00p -2.41%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 139.60p -2.38%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 459.20p -2.30%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,610.00p -2.19%
Serco Group (SRP) 163.00p -1.98%
Capita (CPI) 150.50p -1.76%
FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 1,024.00p -1.73%

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