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FTSE gains on optimism infection rate to slow

By BFN News | 12:01 PM | Monday 06 April, 2020


UK stocks traded higher on Monday after the rate of coronavirus infections in some global hot spots showed faint signs of stabilizing. Meanwhile the pound dropped to $1.23 following news that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been admitted to hospital for further treatment for the coronavirus. At midday the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 2.1% to 5,531 points, with major gains in travel stocks such as Carnival, up 11% to 682p, and housebuilders Barratt Development and Taylor Wimpey, which also gained 11% to 427p and 112.5p respectively. Another big FTSE gainer was aerospace engineering group Rolls-Royce, which climbed 16% to 292p after revealing it had up to £6.7bn of liquidity to keep running smoothly, although it also announced it was scrapping its final dividend and cutting staff salaries by around 10% to conserve cash. Thermal processing services provider Bodycote was a big mid-cap gainer, rallying 9% to 531p after it said its first quarter trading performance 'had not been significantly impacted by disruption from the pandemic'. It put the decision on whether or not to maintain its dividend on hold for now. Defence contractor Babcock rose 6.2% to 365p as it also said that developments over the next two months would determine whether it would pay a final dividend. Wagamama and Frankie & Benny's owner Restaurant Group gaied 8% to 38.6p after it was granted a covenant waiver and facility increase by its lenders. Restaurant Group also said it had shrunk its board to five non-executive directors from six, while cutting director and executive salaries. Book and travel retailer WH Smith added 2.7% to £10.38, even as it announced that it was in the advanced stages of preparing to issue new equity equivalent to up to 13.7% of its existing capital. Oil services company Petrofac inched up 1.1% to 199p having scrapped its 2019 final dividend and said it would reduce its headcount by 20%. Copper miner Antofagasta was a rare faller, losing 1.1% to 749p after it decided to shutter its Los Pelambres expansion project in Chile for up to 120 days due to the coronavirus. Software company Sage dipped 0.9% to 553p as it cancelled its £250m share buyback programme and warned that it expected to miss its previous full-year revenue and margin guidance. Measurement tool company Spectris fell 1.3% to £22.66 as it scrapped a special dividend and postponed its final dividend after first-quarter trading was impacted by the pandemic, with like-for-like sales slipping 10% on the previous year. Recruitment company SThree dropped 1.6% to 202p as it scrapped its final dividend and cut executive salaries by 20%. Furniture and flooring retailer ScS shed 1.8% to 153p as it cancelled its interim dividend and said outgoing chief executive David Knight had agreed not to retire before the end of July 2021 to offer flexibility during a challenging period. Struggling Gulf-focused hospital owner NMC Health said lender Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank had filed an application in a British court to have the company put into administration. NMC Health said it was talking to the bank in an attempt to have the application withdrawn. The company's shares are currently suspended from trading. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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