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07 Apr 2021 | 07:36

London pre-open: Stocks seen up ahead of services PMI

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were set to rise at the open on Wednesday as investors eye the latest reading on the UK services sector. The FTSE 100 was called to open 10 points higher at 6,833.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson noted the UK economy is heading towards a further unlocking next week.

"We've already seen evidence that businesses are gearing up for this economic reopening in the flash numbers we saw at the end of last month, which saw services activity surge to 56.8, a figure that should be confirmed later this morning, from 49.5 in February, and a low of 39.5 at the beginning of the year," he said.

"This rebound in activity suggests that businesses are building up inventory as well as preparing for a coiled spring rebound in Q2. Non-essential retail reopens in five days' time, with pubs reopening for outdoor business as we get ready for a long-anticipated beer, as well as a haircut, though not necessarily in that order."

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

In corporate news, Croda International said it had bought French fine fragrance business Parfex for €45m.

Based in the perfume hub of Grasse in the south of the country, Parfex creates fragrances mainly for the premium personal care and fine perfumery markets, Croda said.

Established in 1985 and now employing 75 people, Parfex generated €3.6m in earnings last year and now sells its fragrances in more than 50 countries.

Hilton Food Group said its turnover was up 50% in its preliminary results, to £2.77bn, with strong growth reported in Australia.

The FTSE 250 food packaging company put growth there down to the end of a transition for its joint venture with the purchase of its assets, and a full-year at its "state-of-the-art" facility in Brisbane.

Its adjusted operating profit was up 22.5% for the 53 weeks ended 3 January, at £67m, and the board proposed a 21.5% hike in the total dividend for the year, to 26p.
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