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Sterling on the march as dollar tanks

31 July 2017 16:42

A rising pound against the dollar helped cap gains on the FTSE 100 on Monday as the index closed up a few points at 7,372.

Utility stocks were in positive territory, lifted by a positive broker note on Severn Trent (SVT).

RBC Capital raised the recommendation from 'underperform' to 'outperform', causing shares in the water utility firm to surge 4.1% to £22.39.

United Utilities (UU.) followed Severn higher as the stock gained 2.8% to 899p.

OVERSEAS MARKETS US markets opened slightly lower ahead of results from corporate titan Apple tomorrow.

Asian equities were resilient in light of a missile launch by North Korea. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rallied 1.3% to 27,323 this morning.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

Banking giant HSBC (HSBA) was up 1.8% to 767.1p on an 'excellent first half'. Reported pre-tax profit rose 5% to $10.2bn and the group announced a $2bn buyback.

In other corporate news there was some respite for pharma giant AstraZeneca (AZN) following its failed drug trial last week. The company announced the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted breakthrough therapy designation for Imfinzi for the treatment of patients with locally-advanced, unresectable non-small cell lung cancer. Shares in the firm nudged 1.9% higher to £45.66.

Tobacco firms Imperial Brands (IMB) and British American Tobacco (BATS) continued to struggle on after the US Food and Drug Administration said it wanted to cut nicotine levels in cigarettes sold in the US. The stocks fell by up to 5.8%.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Among the mid-caps, shares in FDM (FDM) soared 14.5% to 893p after the board said it was confident that the company would beat expectations thanks to strong trading.

Mitie (MTO) slumped 1.9% to 266.7p on the announcement that Britain's accounting watchdog said it was investigating audits conducted by Deloitte on two annual statements of the firm. The probe concerns statements for the financial years ending 31 March 2015 and 2016.

Hiscox (HSX) was down 4.4% to £12.94 after pre-tax profit more than halved to £102.6m in the first half of 2017.

Senior (SNR) said it expected an improved performance in the second half of 2017, which would be driven by increasing revenue and operational improvements. Investors focused on the good news instead of lower operating profit as the stock advanced 1.4% to 247.6p.

Fidessa (FDSA) slipped 0.5% to £22.56 despite pre-tax profit jumping 14% to £25.4m in the first half of 2017 thanks to solid revenue growth across the business.

Indivior (INDV) said the FDA accepted its priority review for injectable drug RBP-6000 to treat people with moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder. The stock was up 5.1% to 384.1p.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Delays in contract renewals were bad for business at Utilitywise (UTW). Management warned that it would miss its £95m sales forecast this year by between £4m and £4.5m, wiping off nearly a quarter of the company's market value.

Newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror (TNI) reported a drop in pre-tax profit of £38.2m in the 26 weeks to 2 July 2017. The stock fell 1.1% to 104.2p.

Strong half year results, including robust profit growth and a hiked dividend, at XP Power (XPP) helped the share price surge nearly 6% higher to £26.40.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

Related Company: SVT

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