UK stocks boosted by news of Brexit breakthrough

  • Thu 17 Oct 2019 13:22

    UK stocks surged in midday trading after UK prime minister Johnson and European Commission president Juncker said that the two sides had reached a 'fair agreement' on Brexit.

    The pound rallied further against the dollar to hit $1.29 as well as gaining ground against the euro.

    At 1pm the FSTE 100 index of leading stocks was up 34 points or 0.5% at 7,208.

    Some of the UK's largest companies announced trading updates and acquisitions, along with some encouraging outlooks. However, several said revenues from overseas rather than the UK were providing the biggest lift to their bottom lines.

    Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever reported underlying sales growth of 2.9% in the third quarter of the year, helped by a rise in volumes and prices.

    Emerging markets were the main driver, while revenues from Europe and North America remained flat. Unilever shares gained 1.5% to £46.78.

    Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca said the US Food and Drug Administration had granted the priority review for its metastatic breast cancer drug and set a date for the second quarter of 2020. Shares added 0.9% to £68.75.

    Shares in mining group BHP recovered their early losses to trade flat at £16.22 after a disappointing trading update. Planned maintenance meant production of some commodities fell in the last quarter, in particular coal and oil.

    Bus operator National Express announced a 14.5% increase in group third quarter revenues, buoyed by strong performance in markets outside the UK.

    The company's Spanish and Moroccan division, ALSA, along with operations in North America helped push operating profit up 14.3% on the same period a year ago. Shares accelerated 0.8% to a new five-year high of 455p.

    High street retailer WH Smith announced it had agreed to acquire US travel store-operator Marshall Retail Group for $400m (£312m) on a cash and debt-free basis to expand its international travel business.

    The stationer said the move would double the size of its international travel brand through a push into the highly-lucrative US airport market. It also announced a placing of £155m of new shares to part-finance the deal.

    Investors welcomed the news, sending the shares up 8% to a new 12-month high of £22.52.

    Shares in fast-food merchant Domino's Pizza pushed up 5% to a six-month high of 279p after it announced it would look to exit from international markets where the business has been under-performing.



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AstraZeneca (AZN)

7,248.00p -29.00p (-0.40%) delayed 18:45PM
Price delayed by 15 minutes.

Domino's Pizza Group (DOM)

269.20p -1.60p (-0.59%) delayed 18:29PM
Price delayed by 15 minutes.

National Express Group (NEX)

449.20p +5.20p (+1.17%) delayed 18:29PM
Price delayed by 15 minutes.

WH Smith (SMWH)

2,340.00p +26.00p (+1.12%) delayed 18:45PM
Price delayed by 15 minutes.

Unilever (ULVR)

4,613.00p -62.00p (-1.33%) delayed 18:45PM
Price delayed by 15 minutes.