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FTSE rallies on signs spread of virus moderating

By BFN News | 04:42 PM | Monday 06 April, 2020


UK stocks closed markedly higher on Monday after the rate of coronavirus infections in the UK and several European countries seemed to show signs of stabilizing. At the same time the pound eased to $1.225 following news that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been admitted to hospital for further treatment for the coronavirus. At 4.35pm the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 168 points or 3.1% at 5,583.50 points, led by gains in travel stocks such as Carnival, up 17% to 718p, and EasyJet up 14% to 544p. Also stronger were housebuilders Barratt Development and Taylor Wimpey, gaining 17% and 15% to 449p and 117p respectively. Another big FTSE mover was aerospace engineering group Rolls-Royce, which climbed 15% to 290p after revealing it had up to £6.7bn of liquidity to keep running smoothly, although it was scrapping its final dividend and cutting staff salaries by around 10% to conserve additional cash. Thermal-processing services provider Bodycote was a big mid-cap mover, rallying 11.5% to 543p 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 6.5% to 365p as it also said that developments over the next two months would determine whether it would pay a final dividend. Book and travel retailer WH Smith surged 8% to £10.90, 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. Wagamama and Frankie & Benny's owner Restaurant Group climbed 4% to 37.1p 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. Oil services company Petrofac also added 4% to 205p having scrapped its 2019 final dividend and said it would reduce its headcount by 20%. After trading in negative territory all day, copper miner Antofagasta closed in the black up 1.2% to 766p following its decision to shutter its Los Pelambres expansion project in Chile for up to 120 days due to the coronavirus. Similarly, software company Sage reversed a small loss to close up 0.7% at 562p 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 closed up 0.8% at £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-year. Recruitment company SThree was a rare faller, dropping 2.5% to 200p as it scrapped its final dividend and cut executive salaries by 20%. Furniture and flooring retailer ScS was also a loser, shedding 1.6% 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 sent into administration. NMC Health said it was talking to the bank in an attempt to have the application withdrawn. The company's shares were currently suspended from trading. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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