FTSE up 0.7% amid strength in miners and oil companies

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UK stocks traded higher on Thursday, led by mining companies as commodity prices, notably copper, continued to advance, with Anglo American, Glencore, Antofagasta and Rio Tinto all in vogue.

By 11.50am, the FTSE 100 was trading 0.7% higher at 7,194, while the FTSE 250 was up 0.5% at 22,748.

Brent Crude pushed ahead 1.1% to $84.11 per barrel, natural gas showed no sign of stopping as it advanced another 4.6% to 246.5p per therm, while sterling rose 0.35% against the US dollar to $1.3715.

CORPORATE NEWS

Homewares retailer Dunelm improved 0.7% to £13.09 as the curtains, cushions and kitchenware seller reported continued strong growth and market share gains for the first quarter ended 25 September.

Total sales grew 8.3% year-on-year to £388.8 million against a very strong comparator, driven by a positive customer response to Dunelm's summer sale, improved product availability and some popular new furniture ranges.

Dunelm insisted it feels 'well placed relatively' to cope with current supply chain disruption and inflationary pressures from freight and driver shortages.

And in the absence of any further Covid-related lockdowns or other industry shortages, Dunelm expects to deliver full year pre-tax profit in line with analysts' recently upgraded consensus expectation of £179 million.

Domino's Pizza fell 1.5% to 380.2p despite serving up a rise in third quarter sales driven by a recovery in collection orders and ongoing strength in online orders.

Looking ahead, the pizza chain assured investors that 'trading remains in-line with our expectations, we are well placed as we gear up for our peak trading period and believe our strategy is working to create sustainable value for all our stakeholders'.

Gambling group Rank advanced 1.6% to 162p after reporting an increase in first quarter revenue as customers returned to its casinos and bingo halls following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

Defence and security company QinetiQ slumped 12.1% to 289.4p, despite announcing an in-line first half performance as order intake improved, after the group flagged a potential £15 million hit to performance from supply chain issues.

Bus operator National Express nudged 1.9% higher to 233.6p on news of a rise in third quarter revenue, with the transport group insisting it is on track to achieve annual underlying pre-tax profit in line with expectations.

'I am pleased to say that our ongoing focus on cost management along with our long-established procurement and fuel hedging programmes mean that we have seen no material impact from input cost inflation,' assured CEO Ignacio Garat.

Recruiter Hays was marked 3% higher to 167.1p after reporting a rise in first quarter net fee income, driven by an increase in demand for permanent placements.

CEO Alistair Cox said: 'We have made a strong start to our financial year, with sequential fee growth in all major markets. 12 countries produced record net fees, including the USA and China, and our global Hays Technology business also hit record fees.'

ALSO ON THE MOVE

Elsewhere, electronics engineer DiscoverIE sparked up 3% to £10.82 on news of a better-than-expected performance in the first half to September, with strong order growth momentum continuing and revenue remaining well ahead of both the prior year and pre-Covid levels.

Bathroom and kitchen products suppler Norcros jumped 7.6% to 312p on a positive first half trading update and a full year profit upgrade. Outperformance of the market experienced in the second half of the prior year has continued into the first half, reflecting increased activity in the UK and South African repair, maintenance and improvement markets and the strength of its customer proposition.

As a result, Norcros now expects underlying operating profit for the year to March 2022 to be 'significantly ahead' of management's previous expectations.

Marshall Motor sped 5.1% ahead to 254.25p after the car retailer announced the £64.5 million strategic acquisition of multi-franchise dealership Motorline.

Funded from Marshall's existing cash resources, CEO Daksh Gupta said the deal is expected to 'generate attractive financial returns' for his charge and brings 'immediate scale' with the Toyota/Lexus and Hyundai brands, which the company has been targeting for some time.