London midday: Stocks up but off highs; Imperial Brands surges

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Tuesday 31 Mar 2020

London midday: Stocks up but off highs; Imperial Brands surges

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were up but off highs by midday on Tuesday, with sentiment underpinned by encouraging Chinese manufacturing figures.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.7% at 5,600.78.

Data released earlier showed that China's manufacturing sector rebounded in March. The official manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 52.0 from a record low of 35.7 in February, comfortably beating expectations for a reading of 44.8. It was also above the 50.0 mark that separates contraction from expansion.

The non-manufacturing PMI increased to 52.3 from 29.6 in February, beating expectations for a reading of 42.0.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "China provided Western investors with a light at the end of the tunnel on Tuesday, showing it is possible to return to growth after the worst (hopefully) of the coronavirus crisis."

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, was a little more sceptical about the manufacturing PMI.

"Two things about this number - it shows a bounce, which is encouraging, but it doesn't show a massive bounce into the 60s, and can we really trust the number? Economic recovery will be uneven, and stock markets are unlikely to bounce back to where they were, yet the panic seems to be over," he said.

On the corporate front, the Covid-19 updates kept coming.

Imperial Brands was the standout gainer after saying the outbreak had no material effect on its trading so far as the cigarette and vaping company unveiled a new €3.5bn (?3.1bn) revolving credit facility with its lenders.

Manufacturing group Melrose Industries also racked up solid gains, having tumbled on Monday after issuing a profit warning late in the day and saying it was pulling its final dividend as it reported a "significant deterioration" in end markets due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Flutter Entertainment rallied as the UK competition regulator approved its acquisition of Canada's Stars Group after finding the combination will not lead to a worse deal for online gamblers.

Royal Dutch Shell was in the green even after it forecast first-quarter writedowns of up to $800m as oil prices crashed in the face of a demand slump due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Advertising company WPP rose as it pulled its guidance and suspended its dividend and share buyback due to the pandemic.

Smiths Group advanced even after it delayed the demerger of its medical business and scrapped its half-year dividend as the engineering group reported intensifying disruption from the coronavirus crisis.

Specialist products manufacturer Morgan Advanced Materials gained despite suspending its dividend and withdrawing its 2020 guidance due to the virus outbreak.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 5,600.78 0.67%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 14,948.02 2.21%
techMARK (TASX) 3,290.61 1.13%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,501.80p 12.66%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 96.78p 10.61%
Flutter Entertainment (FLTR) 7,294.00p 9.95%
Evraz (EVR) 242.20p 6.84%
WPP (WPP) 547.80p 6.20%
easyJet (EZJ) 585.00p 5.98%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,330.40p 5.42%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,387.60p 4.71%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,164.00p 4.35%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,715.50p 4.22%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Experian (EXPN) 2,258.00p -3.83%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 911.80p -3.76%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 32.53p -2.88%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 114.10p -2.73%
Tesco (TSCO) 226.80p -2.70%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 431.50p -2.66%
Pennon Group (PNN) 1,095.00p -2.49%
DCC (DCC) 5,060.00p -2.32%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 7,160.00p -2.21%
Halma (HLMA) 1,829.00p -2.19%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Hammerson (HMSO) 74.26p 11.43%
Marston's (MARS) 40.78p 11.06%
Trainline (TRN) 330.00p 10.00%
Senior (SNR) 68.25p 9.90%
BlackRock Smaller Companies Trust (BRSC) 1,102.00p 9.76%
William Hill (WMH) 68.22p 8.77%
Premier Oil (PMO) 17.98p 8.57%
Sirius Real Estate Ltd. (SRE) 63.30p 8.39%
BMO Commercial Property Trust Limited (BCPT) 73.90p 8.20%
Renishaw (RSW) 3,212.00p 8.15%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 206.00p -8.89%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 123.50p -4.96%
McCarthy & Stone (MCS) 68.50p -3.59%
Sabre Insurance Group (SBRE) 290.50p -3.01%
AJ Bell (AJB) 301.00p -2.90%
Rotork (ROR) 217.20p -2.43%
Contour Global (GLO) 144.20p -2.17%
Petropavlovsk (POG) 21.00p -2.10%
Serco Group (SRP) 120.70p -2.03%
Just Group (JUST) 55.00p -1.96%


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