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FTSE holds on to gains as US stocks recover ground

StockMarketWire.com

The FTSE 100 traded modestly higher by the close. The index was up 0.15% to 7,734.20 as the pound continued to struggle against other major currencies. This bolsters the relative value of constituents' overseas earnings

OVERSEAS MARKETS

After falling sharply in response to rising US government bond yields on Tuesday the S&P 500 recovered a little ground in early trading on Wednesday.

LARGE AND MID CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Software giant Micro Focus (MCRO) was marked up 6.2% to £13.48 on the news the earlier than expected signing of 'an unusually large' $40m licensing deal meant sales for the half to April won't fall by as much as originally feared.

Luxury goods leader Burberry (BRBY) improved 3.9% to £18.75 as it beat forecasts with a 2% rise in adjusted operating profit to £467m for the year to March, reflecting a positive retail performance, cost savings ahead of plan and improved beauty products-related profitability. Burberry, led by Marco Gobbetti and which recently appointed Riccardo Tisci as its new Chief Creative Officer in March, also pleases by maintaining 2019 and 2020 guidance and launching a new £150m share buyback programme.

Crest Nicholson (CRST) crumbled 12.2% to 433.8p on a warning full year operating margins will weigh in at the lower end of the 18-20% guided range amid 'generally flat pricing' against a backdrop of continuing build cost inflation. This overshadowed the fact that the housebuilder delivered strong growth in sales and housing unit numbers in the six months ended 30 April.

Bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) perked up 6.1% to £82.35 as it confirmed it is in talks over a combination of its US business with American daily fantasy sports outfit FanDuel in order to target the prospective US sports betting market.

Train stations-to-airports food and drink seller SSP (SSPG) improved 1.9% to 639.3p as investors applauded strong half year results with taxable profits powering 40% higher to £48.7m, some £3.2m better than broker Shore Capital's estimate, driven by like-for-like growth, new contract wins and a standout performance in North America.

Restaurants and pubs owner Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) was marked down 5.7% to 259.4p after serving up a drop in half year profits, as margins were squeezed by higher staff, property and food costs and severe snow storms kept punters indoors.

Mitchells & Butlers, whose estate includes Harvester, Toby Carvery and All Bar One, had already told shareholders they wouldn't be getting a half year dividend and dances around the issue today in terms of when the dividend will be making a comeback.

Marston's (MARS) softened 10.5% to 100.3p as it swings to a half year loss after asset write-downs and reveals results from its pubs division were hit by snow this year, prompting analysts to lower their full year profit forecasts.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Automation software star turn Blue Prism (PRSM) gave back 3.3% at £16.10 on profit-taking after a stellar run. Following a strong first half, Blue Prism said it is on course to report full year sales 'comfortably ahead of current consensus expectations' of £47.5m and an in-line EBITDA loss of £18.9m.

Formal wear specialist Moss Bros (MOSB) revealed an improvement in trading after a difficult start to 2018. The shares were 7.1% higher at 50.4p.

Loo roll maker Accrol (ACRL) gained 13.5% to 21p after announcing a £10m fundraise late yesterday to back its recovery plan.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com