London close: Stocks finish higher ahead of Fed minutes

Wed 25 May 2022

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (Sharecast News) - London's equity markets managed a positive finish on Wednesday, underpinned by solid performances from the likes of SSE and Pets at Home, as investors eyed the latest minutes from the US Federal Reserve due in the evening.

The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.51% at 7,522.75, and the FTSE 250 was ahead 0.42% at 19,934.04.

Sterling was also in the green, last trading 0.1% stronger on the dollar at $1.2544, and advancing 0.81% against the euro to €1.1768.

"Upbeat and relatively uneventful, the kind of day markets had got used to but have quickly forgotten," said AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson.

"There is the small issue of Fed minutes due out later today which investors will devour, searching for any nugget that might give them an edge which is much needed at a time of such market volatility.

"How fast and how high are central bankers minded to jump up interest rates, have they seen anything that's likely to alter the course markets are anticipating?

"Just one slightly unexpected remark, anything off key is likely to spark another sell off from nervous market watchers."

In equity markets, SSE jumped 5.75% after it posted a 23% increase in full-year pre-tax profit.

The shares fell sharply on Tuesday on reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak had ordered a plan for a windfall tax on electricity generators.

Imperial Brands added 3.17% after an upgrade to 'buy' at Goldman Sachs, while peer British American Tobacco pushed 2.64% higher.

Volution Group rallied 6.89% after saying it continued to perform strongly through the second half, with third-quarter revenue growth of 17.6% at constant currency.

Pets at Home Group rocketed 13.25% after it reported an above-forecast jump in annual profits, driven by strong demand across the pet care market.

The company also said it remained on course to meet current year profit forecasts.

IT services provider Softcat gained 5.27% after it said annual operating profit would be slightly ahead of expectations after a strong third quarter.

Ocado Group reversed earlier losses to eke out gains of 0.6%, even after Ocado Retail, its 50/50 joint venture with M&S, cut guidance.

The venture now expected 2022 sales growth in the low single digits, rather than the 10% it had guided to previously.

Marks and Spencer also claimed back earlier falls to close 4.84% higher, after it reported a rise in annual earnings, boosted by a strong performance in food, but warned that growing headwinds could curtail profits in the current year.

On the downside, Darktrace slipped 0.62% after JPMorgan reiterated its 'underweight' rating on shares of the cybersecurity firm and slashed the price target to 320p from 400p, saying reputational risk had muddied the investment case further.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,522.75 0.51%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,934.04 0.42%
techMARK (TASX) 4,396.35 -0.26%

FTSE 100 - Risers

SSE (SSE) 1,867.50p 5.75%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 83.52p 4.30%
WPP (WPP) 904.00p 3.38%
Kingfisher (KGF) 261.40p 3.20%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,841.50p 3.17%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 1,650.50p 2.83%
Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 2,485.00p 2.69%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,580.50p 2.64%
Rightmove (RMV) 571.20p 2.59%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 125.64p 2.48%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 112.00p -6.12%
Severn Trent (SVT) 3,071.00p -2.45%
Prudential (PRU) 987.20p -2.11%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 1,112.50p -2.03%
Endeavour Mining (EDV) 1,822.00p -1.88%
Fresnillo (FRES) 803.40p -1.88%
Avast (AVST) 483.00p -1.43%
Relx plc (REL) 2,279.00p -1.43%
Unilever (ULVR) 3,493.00p -1.36%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 229.30p -1.29%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Pets at Home Group (PETS) 318.00p 13.25%
Volution Group (FAN) 380.50p 6.89%
SSP Group (SSPG) 257.80p 5.66%
Softcat (SCT) 1,419.00p 5.27%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 373.20p 5.13%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 138.65p 4.84%
Kainos Group (KNOS) 1,214.00p 3.65%
Morgan Sindall Group (MGNS) 2,000.00p 3.63%
Trainline (TRN) 308.80p 3.59%
Tyman (TYMN) 286.50p 3.43%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Spectris (SXS) 2,881.00p -5.32%
Cranswick (CWK) 2,994.00p -4.47%
Trustpilot Group (TRST) 98.70p -3.99%
XP Power Ltd. (DI) (XPP) 3,285.00p -3.66%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 210.80p -3.48%
Renishaw (RSW) 3,808.00p -3.30%
Pennon Group (PNN) 1,068.00p -3.00%
Greencore Group (CDI) (GNC) 107.50p -2.63%
Hilton Food Group (HFG) 1,156.00p -2.53%
RHI Magnesita N.V. (DI) (RHIM) 2,416.00p -2.42%
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