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08 Mar 2021 | 11:54

London midday: Stocks in the black as Pearson rallies after results

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were still in the black by midday on Monday, with Pearson pacing the advance after well-received results. The FTSE 100 was up 0.4% at 6,653.48.

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: "Improving news for the much anticipated global economic recovery is being tempered by accelerating inflation concerns.

"In the US, the non-farm payrolls figure which saw 379000 jobs being added in February was significantly higher than expected, with the unemployment rate also dropping to 6.2%.

"Over the weekend, the proposed $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package was approved by the Senate, while the rollout of vaccinations also continues apace. These combined factors point to the likelihood of strong growth momentum to come later in the year."

In equity markets, Pearson was sitting pretty at the top of the FTSE 100, reversing earlier losses after the education publisher maintained its dividend as it delivered lower annual profits offset by a rise in online learning, reflecting school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic. The company also said it would refocus the business towards a direct-to-consumer model.

Banks were also on the rise, with HSBC, Lloyds and Barclays all higher.

Elsewhere, Phoenix advanced after it posted record annual cash generation and an increased dividend as it unveiled new cash targets.

Network International rallied after its full-year results, while travel and leisure-related stocks advanced, with engine maker Rolls-Royce, InterContinental Hotels, Premier Inn owner Whitbread, Carnival, TUI, easyJet and Cineworld all up.

On the downside, Micro Focus was under the cosh as it said it plans to appeal after a jury ruled against the company and in favour of US-based Wapp in a patent litigation case, awarding the claimant damages of up to $172.5m.

BT Group fell after the telecoms company denied accusations that former chairman Jan du Plessis was forced out last week because he was holding up the pace of strategic decisions. The company was forced to issue a statement on Monday after reports last week that chief executive Philip Jansen threatened to leave unless du Plessis was replaced.

BP and Shell were also weaker, having gained earlier as oil prices jumped on reports of an attack on Saudi oil facilities by Yemen's Houthi fighters.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,653.48 0.35% FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,998.56 0.18% techMARK (TASX) 4,008.70 -0.37%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Pearson (PSON) 800.00p 5.26% Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 113.50p 4.56% Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 41.69p 4.04% HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 454.80p 3.93% Persimmon (PSN) 3,015.00p 3.75% Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 2,505.00p 3.30% Barclays (BARC) 176.88p 3.09% Melrose Industries (MRO) 178.60p 2.58% Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 745.60p 2.56% Whitbread (WTB) 3,500.00p 2.55%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 960.00p -5.60% Avast (AVST) 428.60p -3.90% Pennon Group (PNN) 920.40p -3.68% BT Group (BT.A) 136.60p -3.43% United Utilities Group (UU.) 871.20p -3.16% Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,023.00p -3.11% B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 521.80p -2.90% Severn Trent (SVT) 2,176.00p -2.73% Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 223.50p -2.70% Admiral Group (ADM) 2,886.00p -2.47%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Network International Holdings (NETW) 383.60p 7.09% Carnival (CCL) 1,622.50p 5.98% Vistry Group (VTY) 971.50p 4.69% TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 430.00p 4.04% Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 193.30p 3.84% Countryside Properties (CSP) 519.00p 3.59% Apax Global Alpha Limited (APAX) 216.00p 3.35% ITV (ITV) 120.50p 3.30% Bellway (BWY) 3,263.00p 3.29% BlackRock Smaller Companies Trust (BRSC) 1,708.00p 3.14%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 386.50p -7.54% Edinburgh Worldwide Inv Trust (EWI) 283.00p -7.52% Games Workshop Group (GAW) 9,265.00p -4.97% Allianz Technology Trust (ATT) 2,395.00p -4.96% Micro Focus International (MCRO) 467.40p -4.50% Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) 307.50p -4.21% Spirent Communications (SPT) 234.00p -3.90% JPMorgan Japanese Inv Trust (JFJ) 608.00p -3.49% PureTech Health (PRTC) 401.50p -3.14% Hilton Food Group (HFG) 1,062.00p -2.93%
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