London open: Stocks edge up amid deluge of corporate news – ShareCast

London stocks edged higher in early trade on Thursday as investors waded through a deluge of corporate releases, amid expectations that US President-elect Joe Biden will unveil a Covid-19 relief package.

At 0845 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.3% at 6,765.94, with Biden set to announce a $2 trillion relief bill, according to reports. This comes after Donald Trump was impeached for the second time, for inciting violence at the Capitol Hill riots.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: “Though the uncertainty surrounding Donald Trump – who just became the first President in history to be impeached twice – remains, the prospect of Joe Biden’s Covid-19 stimulus plan started to warm up the Dow Jones futures. The incoming President is set to reveal his package this Thursday, setting the Dow up for a 110-point, record high-teasing rise.”

On the corporate front, investors were sinking their teeth into a raft of updates, with Tesco, Taylor Wimpey, Associated British Foods and Whitbread among the big names reporting.

AB Foods said Primark will lose an extra £355m in sales due under new restrictions to control the spread of Covid-19 in the UK.

Meanwhile, Tesco stuck to its guidance for annual results after a 6.8% increase in Christmas sales helped offset an £85m increase in Covid-related costs. The company said retail operating profit is likely to be at least the same as in 2019-20 excluding the cost of repaying business rates relief.

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey said its 2020 results will be in line with market expectations despite the impact of the pandemic.

Premier Inn owner Whitbread warned of a “challenging” trading environment, after the latest round of lockdown restrictions caused accommodation sales to plummet by more than half.

Dunelm shares slid slid as it reported a spike in second-quarter sales, boosted by strong demand for homewares, but warned of a more uncertain outlook following the latest round of lockdown restrictions.

Just Group surged to the top of the FTSE 250 after it said retirement income sales for 2020 rose 12% to £2.15bn.

Elsewhere, B&M European Value Retailer, Sage and SSE were all weaker as their stock went ex-dividend.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,765.94 0.30%FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,750.06 0.65%techMARK (TASX) 4,119.69 0.17%

FTSE 100 – Risers

BHP Group (BHP) 2,168.50p 1.90%International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 155.30p 1.84%Whitbread (WTB) 3,112.00p 1.70%Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,745.00p 1.63%Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,632.50p 1.59%SEGRO (SGRO) 965.60p 1.56%Melrose Industries (MRO) 187.70p 1.54%Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 3,716.00p 1.53%Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,550.50p 1.34%BP (BP.) 307.75p 1.27%

FTSE 100 – Fallers

Sage Group (SGE) 547.60p -3.18%B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 533.00p -3.13%SSE (SSE) 1,542.00p -2.19%Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 158.00p -1.86%Pennon Group (PNN) 963.40p -1.71%Tesco (TSCO) 238.00p -1.69%Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,539.00p -1.47%Bunzl (BNZL) 2,455.00p -1.45%Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 237.10p -1.33%JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 845.40p -1.24%

FTSE 250 – Risers

Just Group (JUST) 77.10p 11.82%IP Group (IPO) 104.80p 5.43%Tritax Big Box Reit (BBOX) 176.50p 4.87%Rotork (ROR) 347.60p 4.13%Centrica (CNA) 51.44p 3.77%Carnival (CCL) 1,288.50p 3.33%IntegraFin Holding (IHP) 565.00p 3.29%Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 3,622.00p 3.13%Synthomer (SYNT) 459.40p 3.10%Mediclinic International (MDC) 292.20p 2.96%

FTSE 250 – Fallers

Dunelm Group (DNLM) 1,209.00p -6.71%Network International Holdings (NETW) 332.00p -4.21%Ferrexpo (FXPO) 335.20p -2.39%Future (FUTR) 1,728.00p -2.15%Hochschild Mining (HOC) 202.40p -1.84%TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 232.90p -1.33%Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,395.00p -1.17%Centamin (DI) (CEY) 121.80p -1.06%TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 97.50p -0.86%Cranswick (CWK) 3,500.00p -0.85%