- Vodafone and RBS provide a lift
- Vodafone capital return lifts sentiment
- IHG, Glencore Xstrata hit by downgrades
- FTSE 100 at highest level in month
techMARK 2,884.38 +0.29%
FTSE 100 6,827.26 +0.21%
FTSE 250 16,401.56 +0.20%
UK stocks rose to levels not seen in a month on Friday as a windfall for investors at Vodafone and rumoured restructuring plans at RBS gave sentiment a lift.
Markets were particularly buoyant this morning as investors speculated about which stocks could benefit from Vodafone shareholders redistributing their cash following the group's $130bn deal to sell its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless.
According to analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the deal, which completes today, will be the largest capital return in corporate history and will have a drastic impact on UK trading volumes over the next few weeks.
The FTSE 100 had pared gains by midday but was still trading 0.2% higher at 6,827; it has not closed above this level since January 21st.
"London's main index holds above the 6,800 level for now, putting it in a position to challenge the January high of 6,867; providing the positive mood is sustained into the final week of February," said Chris Beauchamp, Market Analyst at IG. He said that the current rally "may have a little further to run".
Investors largely shrugged off data this morning showing a worse-than-expected 1.5% fall in UK retail sales volumes in January.
Vodafone, RBS and Glaxo provide a lift
Telecoms titan Vodafone was making decent gains this morning with shareholders today set to receive a windfall from the company's sale of its holding in its US joint venture with Verizon.
RBS was higher amid reports that the bank will announce plans to slash as many as 30,000 jobs, reducing its staff count to the lowest levels in more than 10 years. The speculation comes ahead of the group's 2013 results due out next week, alongside which it is expected to unveil a massive restructuring programme of its divisions.
Pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline edged higher after European regulators recommended marketing authorisation for umeclidinium, its once-daily treatment to relieve symptoms in adult patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Millennium & Copthorne, the hotel firm, jumped after reporting record revenues and profits for 2013 as fourth-quarter results were boosted by the one-off sale of the bulk of the Glyndebourne development in Singapore.
Sector peer InterContinental Hotels Group, however, was trading in the red after Credit Suisse lowered its recommendation from 'neutral' to 'underperform', pointing out that the shares
are trading within just 4% of their all-time high at a price-to-earnings ratio of 23.
Glencore Xstrata was also lower after JPMorgan Cazenove downgraded its rating on the stock from 'overweight' to 'neutral', saying that its peers have overtaken it in terms of capital returns potential.
BAE Systems, which disappointed the market with its 2014 guidance yesterday, bounced slightly this morning after Societe Generale raised the stock from 'hold' to 'buy'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 364.10p +2.36%
BAE Systems (BA.) 409.00p +2.15%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 965.00p +1.90%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 233.65p +1.76%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,460.00p +1.60%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,355.00p +1.16%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,984.00p +0.92%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,825.00p +0.81%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,812.00p +0.78%
Wolseley (WOS) 3,342.00p +0.75%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 1,922.00p -2.68%
IMI (IMI) 1,530.00p -2.24%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,361.00p -2.09%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,469.00p -1.34%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,727.00p -1.20%
Prudential (PRU) 1,340.00p -1.11%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 445.70p -1.07%
Meggitt (MGGT) 509.00p -1.07%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 336.90p -1.04%
ITV (ITV) 205.70p -1.01%
FTSE 250 - Risers
IP Group (IPO) 231.00p +7.89%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 598.50p +4.72%
Essentra (ESNT) 882.00p +4.38%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 52.35p +3.77%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 187.90p +2.96%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 598.00p +2.48%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 562.00p +2.46%
RPC Group (RPC) 630.00p +2.36%
Hunting (HTG) 838.00p +2.20%
Polymetal International (POLY) 655.00p +2.18%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Vesuvius (VSVS) 458.20p -2.86%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 535.00p -2.37%
Evraz (EVR) 81.80p -1.56%
Rank Group (RNK) 145.00p -1.56%
3i Group (III) 400.50p -1.50%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 358.80p -1.46%
Hellermanntyton Group (HTY) 305.30p -1.45%
Synthomer (SYNT) 270.20p -1.39%
Cranswick (CWK) 1,288.00p -1.38%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,375.00p -1.29%