FTSE lifts as investors cheer bumper profits haul

Prudential has shrugged off global market volatility and the shake-up of the UK pension industry to see profits rise by more than a fifth PICTURE: Dominic Lipinski/PA

LONDON'S top flight index lifted as investors cheered a bumper profits haul and special dividend payout from insurance giant Prudential.

Britain's biggest insurer saw its stock value climb nearly 3 per cent after it shrugged off global market volatility and the shake-up of the UK pension industry to post a rise in operating profit to £4 billion for last year.

The FTSE 100 Index rose 20.88 points to 6146.32 despite luxury fashion retailer Burberry giving up gains from the previous sessions, as shares fell more than 6 per cent or 98p to 1364p over mistaken takeover speculation.

Commodity stocks were among the biggest risers, as the price of Brent crude rose nearly 3.5 per cent to US$41 after falling on Tuesday as analysts predicted production levels to fall, easing over-supply issues.

Royal Dutch Shell was up 25.5p to 1689p, while mining giants Glencore and BHP Billiton were up 3.5p to 143.25p and 9.8p to 831.2p respectively.

Germany's Dax was up 0.3 per cent, while the Cac 40 in France rose just under half a per cent. In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.3 per cent.

Sterling was marginally up against the dollar at 1.423, while the pound also rose against the euro at 1.291.

In stocks, Pru was in sharp focus after it upped its full-year divi by 5 per cent to 38.78p a share and said it would pay a special divi of 10p a share.

Shares lifted 38.5p to 1365p as annual results showed it bucked low interest rates in major economies and fears over global growth to deliver a strong performance for its UK, US and Asian life businesses.

But G4S was seeing contrasting fortunes in the FTSE 250 Index, tumbling 12 per cent or 25.7p to 187p after it said statutory profits at the group fell to £8 million, down from £145m a year ago, and warned over more costs from loss-making contracts.

G4S warned that it could lose a further £57m if the government extends a key contract to house surging numbers of asylum seekers, having already taken a £31m provision on the loss-making contract.

The group also pledged to sell more businesses and booked £255m of costs as it continues an overhaul to put behind it a prisoner tagging scandal in 2013 and its failure to supply adequate security for the London Olympics in 2012.

Frankie & Benny's owner The Restaurant Group was also heavily in the red in the second tier as the group said it would struggle to add sales this year as consumer spending eases.

It reported profits up 11 per cent for 2015 but said trading worsened at the start of this year, with like-for-like sales down 1.5 per cent in the first 10 weeks of 2016.

Shares fell 22.6 per cent or 123p to 420p.

The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 Index were Prudential up 38.5p to 1365p, Glencore up 3.5p to 143.25p, SSE up 33p to 1468p, Berkeley Group Holdings up 62p to 3000p.

The biggest fallers in the FTSE 100 Index were Burberry Group down 98p to 1364p, Standard Chartered down 11p to 469.5p, Barclays down 3.8p to 168.2p, Aberdeen Asset Management down 5.2p to 270.5p.

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