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01 Apr 2021 | 07:35

London pre-open: Stocks seen higher ahead of manufacturing PMI

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were set to edge up at the open on Thursday ahead of the long Easter weekend, as investors eyed the latest reading on the UK manufacturing sector. The FTSE 100 was called to open 13 points higher at 6,726.

On the data front, Markit's manufacturing PMI for March is due at 0930 BST.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "While markets in Europe ended the month in a fairly quiet fashion US markets had a much more positive end to proceedings, with the S&P 500 edging to within touching distance of the 4,000 level, and a new record high, as a Nasdaq and Russell inspired surge saw US stocks finish the quarter in more or less the same fashion, they started it.

"Optimism over the impact of a further $2trn stimulus package in infrastructure spending merely served to add more fuel to the fire of last month's $1.9trn stimulus bill, that came on top of the $900bn that came at the beginning of the year."

In corporate news, clothing retailer Next lifted current year profits guidance as online sales continued to soar during the Covid lockdown, despite reporting a slump in annual profits, although in line with expectations.

The company said it now expected profits of £700m, up £30m after a boom in sales during February and March. Pre-tax profits for the year to January 31 more than halved to £342m. Dividend payments remained suspended and debt was cut by £502m to £610m.

3i Infrastructure has agreed to invest €182m (£155.03m) to acquire a 60% stake in DNS:NET, and to provide additional funding for the future growth of the business.

The FTSE 250 infrastructure investor described DNS:NET as a "leading independent telecommunications provider" in Germany, and said it was buying its stake from Deutsche Beteiligungs (DBAG), DBAG ECF, a private equity fund managed by DBAG, and founder and chief executive officer Alexander Lucke, who was reinvesting alongside 3i to retain a 40% stake. Completion was expected in June.
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