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London midday: Stocks flat but Hargreaves Lansdown surges on takeover approach

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Thursday 23 May 2024

London midday: Stocks flat but Hargreaves Lansdown surges on takeover approach

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were little changed by midday on Thursday as investors got their first chance to react to news of a general election on 4 July, with Hargreaves Lansdown powering ahead after rejecting a takeover offer.
The FTSE 100 was flat at 8,369.74.

Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Some positivity will be coming from confirmation that a general election is on the way in a matter of weeks. While political upheaval does have the potential to upset markets, the uncertainty around next steps in recent days will have been holding sentiment back.

"The UK market is also reacting to a slightly more hawkish tone from the Federal Reserve, after the latest minutes showed recent data hadn't increased their confidence in progress towards inflation targets.

"Better news was to be found from Nvidia, whose shares popped 6% after beating expectations. The group's expected to ring the bell on a new all-time high, exceeding $1000 per share, when the US market opens. The chip specialist reported a 262% increase in revenue, as AI chip demand reached record levels."

On the macro front, a survey out earlier showed the UK's under-pressure manufacturing sector rebounded in May.

The latest S&P Global flash UK manufacturing PMI came in at 51.3, up from 49.1 in April and a 22-month high. The output index also pushed into positive territory, rising to a 25-month high of 52.7 from April's 49.4.

A reading below the neutral 50.0 mark indicates contraction, while one above it suggests growth.

In equity markets, Hargreaves Lansdown jumped after confirming it had rejected a 985p per share takeover offer from a consortium comprising CVC, Nordic Capital and Platinum Ivy, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

AJ Bell went along for the ride, with an additional boost from encouraging results which saw the investment platform hike its dividend as it hailed a "very strong" interim performance, posting an increase in profits and revenue as platform customers reached a milestone.

FTSE 100 peer St James's Place also rallied.

Rolls-Royce advanced after saying it had a strong start to the year despite continued industry-wide supply chain challenges.

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust gained as it reported a positive return over the past year following two years of negative returns in both NAV and share price terms. The shares were also likely boosted by well-received results overnight from shareholding Nvidia.

Defence technology firm Qinetiq surged after lifting its full-year guidance as it reported a jump in underlying profit and revenue.

Budget airline Wizz Air flew higher after saying it swung to a profit of €365.9m in the year to the end of March from a loss of €531.1m the year earlier amid "sustained" demand.

On the downside, National Grid slumped after results and as it announced a £7bn equity raise through a rights issue. Drax, Severn Trent, Pennon and United Utilities also lost ground.

Pets at Home took a hit after the Competition and Markets Authority announced a full investigation into the UK vet market.

Johnson Matthey declined as it posted a fall in full-year underlying profit as it was hit by lower metals prices.

NatWest was under the cosh amid speculation that a sale of shares in the bank to the general public could be scuppered by the upcoming general election.

Whitbread and DDC fell as they traded without entitlement to the dividend.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 8,369.74 -0.01%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,721.76 0.06%
techMARK (TASX) 4,876.99 0.28%

FTSE 100 - Risers

St James's Place (STJ) 482.60p 3.61%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,477.00p 2.96%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 888.60p 2.14%
BAE Systems (BA.) 1,401.00p 2.00%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 436.50p 1.99%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 508.00p 1.68%
Schroders (SDR) 389.00p 1.67%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,968.00p 1.50%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 147.00p 1.34%
3i Group (III) 2,931.00p 1.14%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

National Grid (NG.) 1,011.00p -10.33%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,521.00p -4.47%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 1,030.50p -4.32%
BT Group (BT.A) 125.55p -2.79%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 987.40p -2.72%
RS Group (RS1) 791.50p -2.64%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,990.00p -2.00%
Centrica (CNA) 144.60p -1.83%
NATWEST GROUP (NWG) 308.10p -1.72%
DCC (CDI) (DCC) 5,650.00p -1.57%

FTSE 250 - Risers

QinetiQ Group (QQ.) 422.00p 12.77%
AJ Bell (AJB) 404.00p 11.45%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,072.00p 9.50%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 2,100.00p 7.03%
CMC Markets (CMCX) 278.00p 4.91%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 707.50p 4.51%
Bytes Technology Group (BYIT) 584.50p 2.63%
Hill and Smith (HILS) 2,005.00p 2.40%
Redrow (RDW) 718.00p 1.92%
Bellway (BWY) 2,734.00p 1.86%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Drax Group (DRX) 508.50p -8.38%
Pennon Group (PNN) 628.50p -5.49%
W.A.G Payment Solutions (WPS) 67.40p -3.71%
Tritax Eurobox (GBP) (EBOX) 57.20p -3.70%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 272.80p -3.54%
Grainger (GRI) 242.50p -3.39%
Tritax Big Box Reit (BBOX) 155.10p -3.06%
NextEnergy Solar Fund Limited Red (NESF) 74.85p -2.54%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,139.00p -2.48%
Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) 259.50p -2.44%


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