(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London opened higher on Wednesday on busy day in the economic calendar, while Croda International shares were higher after announcing a strategic review of two businesses.
The FTSE 100 index was up 43.53 points, or 0.6%, at 6,966.52. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index was up 67.77 points, or 0.3%, at 22,397.81. The AIM All-Share index was up 0.2% at 1,264.38.
The Cboe UK 100 index was up 0.7% at 693.30. The Cboe 250 was up 0.3% at 20,058.81, and the Cboe Small Companies down 0.2% at 14,670.26.
In mainland Europe, the CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.6%, while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt was up 0.9%.
In the FTSE 100, Croda International was the best performer, up 2.1%, after the speciality chemicals company said it is launching a strategic review of its Performance Technologies and Industrial Chemicals units.
Croda said the main objective will be to establish what ownership structure best serves this part of the business going forward, to create a stronger platform for its future growth. The review is consistent with Croda's prioritisation of investments in the faster-growth life science and consumer markets, which now represent over 80% of company's profit, it noted.
Croda said the review will consider whether the company is "the best future owner of all the PTIC businesses within the context of opportunities to deploy more capital and resources within PTIC, as well as in Consumer Care and Life Sciences". The review is expected to conclude by the end of 2021, Croda added.
In the FTSE 250, Playtech was up 2.1% after the gambling software company said it signed a new, expanded long-term strategic software and services agreement with Holland Casino, in the Netherlands.
ITV was up 0.3% after the broadcaster said it made a positive start to 2021 with total revenue and total television viewing both up, despite the continuing pressures from the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the first quarter to March 31, total external revenue was up 2% at GBP709 million from GBP694 million in the first quarter of 2020.
Looking ahead, ITV expects May advertising trends to be up by around 85% and June up by between 85% and 90% compared to the same period in 2020, benefiting from the European football championship and the return of Love Island over the summer.
At the other end of the mid-caps, Virgin Money UK was the worst performer, down 7.2%, even as the challenger bank posted positive interim results.
Virgin Money swung to a pretax profit in the half year that ended March 31 of GBP72 million from a loss of GBP7 million a year before.
Underlying net interest income slipped by 4% to GBP677 million from GBP702 million a year before as net interest margin narrowed to 1.56% from 1.62%. However, Virgin slashed its impairment charge to GBP38 million from GBP232 million, producing the swing to profit.
On AIM, boohoo Group was 2.5% lower despite posting "another set of record results" against the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the financial year ended February 28, revenue was up 41% to GBP1.75 billion from GBP1.23 billion the year before, and pretax profit jumped 35% to GBP124.7 million from GBP92.2 million.
The fast-fashion retailer said it saw strong revenue growth across all geographies with UK up 39% and international up 44%.
Looking ahead, boohoo said revenue growth for the full year to February 2022 is expected to be around 25% at a group level, with newly acquired brands, such as Debenhams online business, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton, expected to deliver five percentage points of this growth.
The pound was quoted at USD1.3898 early Wednesday, up from USD1.3871 at the London equities close Tuesday.
The euro was priced at USD1.2005, lower against USD1.2015. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY109.44, up from JPY109.33.
Brent oil was quoted at USD69.40 a barrel Wednesday morning, up sharply from USD68.46 a barrel late Tuesday. Gold was priced at USD1,777.23 an ounce, lower from USD1,782.51.
In Wednesday's economic calendar, there are PMIs from Germany and the eurozone at 0855 BST and 0900 BST, respectively, and then there are eurozone producer prices at 1000 BST. In the US, ADP employment figures are at 1315 BST, the services PMI is at 1445 BST, and the ISM services PMI print follows at 1500 BST.
By Arvind Bhunjun; email@example.com
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