FTSE 100 gets boost as UK reopening plans revealed


Details of the UK's reopening plan helped give the FTSE 100 a lift on Monday afternoon with the index recovering earlier heavier losses to trade down just 0.18% at 6,612.24.

Hospitality, retail and travel stocks all rallied with pubs group JD Wetherspoon up 8.7% to £13.43, budget airline Jet2 rising 7.2% to £13.14 and WH Smith gaining 6% to £17.85.

By 4.30pm UK time the S&P 500 was down 0.6% to 3,884.42.

Security group G4S slumped 9.8% to 242.6p after private equity firm GardaWorld said it wouldn't raise its 235p offer for the company, cooling hopes of a bidding war.

G4S had rejected GardaWorld's offer in favour of 245p bid from Allied Universal.

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca dipped 0.4% to £71.96 as it said it was withdrawing a bladder cancer drug in the US after it failed to meet post-marketing requirements in a clinical study.

Infection prevention group Tristel rose 0.8% to 605p, having posted a 12% rise in first-half profit, as hospitals rushed to purchase disinfectants amid the pandemic.

Tristel declared an interim dividend of 2.62p per share, up 12% year-on-year, as 15% growth in sales hit the top end of the company's 10-15% target.

Pub group Mitchells & Butlers gained 4.5% to 337.5p after it said its sales had fallen sharply due to the UK's Covid-19 lockdown.

Mitchells & Butlers, while launching a planned £350 million equity raising, said managed sales between 27 September and 16 January had dropped 70% year-on-year. But it benefited from news of the UK reopening.

Veterinary drugs company Dechra Pharmaceuticals shed 3.2% to £34.98, even as hiked its dividend 8% to 11.11p per share on the back of an 82% jump in first-half profit.

Dechra said it was starting to see a pre-Brexit inventory build unwind and, therefore, was expecting the balance of trading to be first-half weighted.

Computing and power product manufacturer Solid State climbed 2.6% to 790p, having upgraded its profit guidance, citing strong demand for higher-margin products.

Solid State's profit for the year through March was expected to be ahead of consensus forecasts, with revenue in line with forecasts.

Footwear retailer Shoe Zone fell 9.6% to 64.2p as it announced that finance director Peter Foot had left, with immediate effect, and that it had started searching for a replacement.

Foot had only stepped into the role in July last year.

Argentina-focused oil company President Energy fell 12.8% to 2.11p after it said it would post a drop in annual earnings and revenue, as lower crude prices offset a rise in output.

Looking ahead to 2021, President Energy forecast a rise in annual production to between 3,600 and 4,000 barrels of oil per day.