Unilever and Lloyds dominate FTSE 100

Investors were excited by Ben & Jerry’s owner and brand colossus Unilever’s (ULVR) announcement that it would review options to ‘accelerate delivery of value’.

This could involve special dividends for shareholders or selling parts of its business, prompting the stock to jump 5.7% to £37.91.

As Unilever is among the top constituents on the FTSE 100, it pushed the index 0.4% higher and offset losses among miners.

High street bank Lloyds (LLOY) reported its highest full-year profit in a decade and gained 4.4%.

Tobacco seller Imperial Brands (IMB) rose 0.8% as analysts resurrected a long-standing argument that it could be a takeover target for a Japanese peer.

Durex owner Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) was also among the top blue-chips as shares advanced 2.2%.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil were up to 1.6% lower at $53.52 and $55.74 per barrel, respectively.

Gold retreated 0.4% to $1,232 per ounce and copper cheapened 0.6% to $6,018 per tonne.


The UK economy grew in the last quarter of 2016 as gross domestic product rose from 0.6% to 0.7%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Between November and December, the service industry expanded by 0.2%, which marked the seventh consecutive month-on-month growth.

On Wall Street, stock markets opened flat as deflated oil prices hit investor sentiment. The Dow Jones struggled with tech giant Microsoft among the top fallers.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index had a lacklustre day despite a rally in laptop seller Toshiba’s shares. Shanghai’s SSE Composite and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fared better and closed higher.


Britain’s biggest housebuilder Barratt Developments (BDEV) unveiled a 9% rise in first-half pre-tax profit despite building fewer homes. Critics highlighted the potential harm this may do to government efforts to boost housing supply amid a growing crisis, but this was overlooked by investors.


Recruiter Hays (HAS) remained confident for the rest of its financial year after reporting a 3% rise in first-half net fees, at constant currencies, on growth in Europe and Australia. Unfortunately, investors focused on its performance in the UK and Ireland, which continued to be challenging.

Public services provider Serco (SRP) failed to deliver to the market as underlying profit fell from £95.9m to £82.1m, which it blamed mainly on discontinued operations. It was the biggest mid-cap faller as shares tumbled by 18.4%.

Engineer Weir (WEIR) struggled as pre-tax profit fell by more than a fifth from £219m to £170m.

Addiction treatment business Indivior (INDV) reported operating profit more than halved from $346m in 2015 to $149m after exceptional costs of $238m. Its shares fell 6.6% to 345p.


A puzzling $2m share subscription fundraising by security technology firm SerVision (SEV) sparked a 109% share price surge. US investor Cascade said it would pay 11.4p per share price, which was nearly fourfold the stock’s 2.76p closing price on Tuesday. The cash will be used to expand sales of the SerVision’s IVG40-N camera security product.

Software provider OneView (ONEV) sealed a multi-million dollar annual cloud-based hosting agreement with Discount Tire Corporation, prompting the stock to rocket by 54%.

Robotic process automation business Blue Prism (PRSM) jumped 11.8% to 500p on confirmation its revenue would be ‘materially ahead’ of expectations due to new business and upsells to existing clients.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com


Claim 12 issues of MoneyWeek (plus much more) for just £12!

Let MoneyWeek show you how to profit, whatever the outcome of the upcoming general election.

Start your no-obligation trial today and get up to speed on:

  • The latest shifts in the economy…
  • The ongoing Brexit negotiations…
  • The new tax rules…
  • Trump’s protectionist policies…

Plus lots more.

We’ll show you what it all means for your money.

Plus, the moment you begin your trial, we’ll rush you over THREE free investment reports:

‘How to escape the most hated tax in Britain’: Inheritance tax hits many unsuspecting families. Our report tells how to pass on up to £2m of your money to your family without the taxman getting a look in.

‘How to profit from a Trump presidency’: The election of Donald Trump was a watershed moment for the US economy. This report details the sectors our analysts think will boom from Trump’s premiership, and gives specific investments you can buy to profit.

‘Best shares to watch in 2017’: Includes the transcript from our roundtable panel of investment professionals – and 12 tips they’re currently tipping. The report also analyses key assets, including property, oil and the countries whose stock markets currently offer the most value.