Accountancy software behemoth Sage Group was the best performer on the blue-chip index today after acquiring a majority interest in Folhamatic Group, a provider of accounting, tax and payroll and regulatory content software in Brazil, for 125m pounds. Investec upgraded its rating on the stock today from 'sell' to 'hold' after the shares surpassed its target price.
Insurance giant Aviva was on the rise after Fitch Ratings said that insurance companies are loss exposed than banks to contagion risk triggered by a Greek exit from the Eurozone "because of insurers' ability to share losses with policyholders and their lower reliance on short-term funding." Prudential, Legal & General and RSA Insurance were also making gains.
Costa and Premier Inn owner Whitbread was extending its gains after its well-taken first-quarter results yesterday; total sales in the 13 weeks to May 31st were up 13.9% on the corresponding period of 2011, with LFL sales up a better-than-expected 4.5%
Heading the other way were heavyweight utilities stocks Severn Trent and United Utilities after going ex-dividend; from today, investors will not have the right to their latest dividend payments.
Oilfield services group Petrofac dropped despite being declared as the selected bidder on the Pánuco integrated production service contract in Mexico.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Sage Group (SGE) 268.40p +5.88%
Aviva (AV.) 278.70p +4.54%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 516.00p +4.05%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,042.00p +3.81%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 159.70p +3.43%
The London Stock Exchange is considering buying a stake in Istanbul's fast-growing stock market as part of a deal that could see Turkish trades settled in the City. Borsa Istanbul has been seeking an international partner to overhaul its technology and improve the market's access to foreign investors for several months. The LSE's proposal would see Borsa Istanbul start to clear its trades through LCH Clearnet, the financial plumbing system now majority-controlled by the LSE. [Yesterday 17:41]
An improved outlook from the Bank of England (BoE) lifted UK markets into the blue by Wednesday lunchtime as investors shrugged off disappointing growth figures from the Eurozone and rising unemployment at home. [Wed 11:19]
Worse-than-expected growth figures from Eurozone powerhouses Germany and France dampened market sentiment in London on Wednesday morning, as stocks pulled back after hitting fresh multiyear highs the day before. [Wed 08:39]
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open up five points from yesterday's close of 6,686, likely to be driven in part by utilities giant Severn Trent, which has this morning brushed off a bid approach from a consortium of foreign investors, saying it completely undervalues the firm. [Wed 07:29]
Icap is fighting to restructure and survive. Hence the very positive market reaction on Tuesday when it announced that it would beat its target for cost savings. Far more important even, traders breathed a sigh of relief that it did not cut its dividend payment. Nevertheless, a 12 per cent revenue decline alongside pre-tax profits off by 20 per cent at 284m pounds shows how difficult it is to align costs with declining markets. In addition, there are pending regulatory change [Wed 07:19]
Severn Trent topped the leaderboard after it confirmed press speculation that it has received a bid approach from a consortium of investors, which is rumoured to value the UK utility company around 5.3bn pounds. In a statement released this morning, Severn Trent said it had received an approach with a view to making a proposal from Canadian infrastructure investor Borealis, the Kuwait Investment Office and Universities Superannuation Scheme. [Tue 14:57]
Strong gains in the utilities sector after a takeover approach for Severn Trent and some well-received results from Babcock International weren't enough to lift markets into positive territory by Tuesday lunchtime, as the FTSE 100 snapped an eight-day winning streak. [Tue 11:50]
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