FTSE recovers despite Trump healthcare concerns

The blue-chip index recovered some ground this afternoon as investors put concerns over a potential legislative roadblock for President Trump’s new healthcare plans later to one side.

The FTSE 100 closed up 0.2% at 7,340.71.

High street retailer Next (NXT) was the top performing FTSE 100 firm as investors were relieved it didn’t downgrade its earnings guidance again. Its shares jumped 8.2% to £42.05 in a relief rally.

Pharma giant Hikma (HIK) fell 2.5% and gold producer Randgold Resources (RRS) also fell 2.5%.

Retail sales jumped by 3.7% year-on-year in February, which was stronger than a 1.5% rise in January, according to the Office for National Statistics.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

In the US, Congress will vote on repealing and replacing Obamacare with the American Health Care Act later today. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones were both slightly ahead in early trading on Thursday.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 ended the day up 0.2% at 19,085. India’s benchmark index BSE Sensex also had a good day, rising 0.3% to close at 29,266.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Gambling firm GVC (GVC) unveiled full year earnings, which beat analysts’ predictions and also rewarded shareholders with a second special dividend of 15.1 cents, prompting a 5.7% rise in the stock.

British luxury clothing retailer Ted Baker (TED) reported a 4% rise in full year pre-tax profit to £61.3m and a 12.1% hike in the dividend, but this didn’t stop the shares falling 5.9%.

Safety group Halma (HLMA) reassured investors that full year earnings would meet expectations. Management reported that its recently increased credit facility and ongoing strong cash generation would help it to achieve further acquisitions and reach growth objectives. Its shares are up 6.9% to £10.25

Shares in residential housebuilder Crest Nicholson (CRST) dipped 0.4% to 559p despite a reassuring trading update. It reported ‘good sales’ across the business with a current forward sales position 5% ahead of the same period last year.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

One Media iP (OMIP) revealed that operating profit plummeted to £28,959 from £ 445,312 in 2015. Management said the Brexit vote and the drop in sterling didn’t help, this unnerved investors who marked the stock 20% lower.

Public Service Properties Investments (PSPI) dropped 20% after proposing to leave the AIM market, with the decision yet to be approved by shareholders.

Nektan (NKTN) announced that Respin Games, its US operating subsidiary, signed its first major contract with a Tier-1 US casino operator to launch its real money in-venue mobile games solution in the US casino market. The stock soared by 87.8%.

Also benefiting from a new deal was Intelligent Energy (IEH) who agreed to supply PINC with its air cooled fuel cell systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). This marked Intelligent Energy’s first sale of fuel cell systems for UAVs. Shares in the firm sparked 48%.

Telecom service provider Toople (TOOP) warned increasing competition in the small medium enterprise broadband market made it more difficult for it to differentiate itself as anticipated when Toople floated last May. The stock pared earlier losses to trade up 6.7% at 4p.

Franchise Brands (FRAN) said it would buy drain clearance business Metro Rod for £28m. The company announced it is raising £20m to help fund the deal via placing new shares at 67p, which was a 28% discount to yesterday’s share price.

Transport group Eddie Stobart announced it would return to stock market as a standalone entity. Former parent company Stobart Group (STOB) sold a 51% stake in the business three years ago, but will continue to hold a large stake in Eddie once it joins AIM.

WYG (WYG) tanked 16% after reporting delays to some of its higher margin service lines, which hit its profit performance.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com