FTSE reaches another record level on strong earnings and Anglo American bid

The FTSE 100 finished 38.48 points, or 0.48%, higher to end the day at 8,078.86.

Henry Saker-Clark
Friday 26 April 2024 10:33 BST
Stocks in the City were higher again on Thursday (Yui Mok/PA)
Stocks in the City were higher again on Thursday (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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London’s top stock index closed at another record high on Thursday after it was pulled higher by a raft of strong earnings reports and renewed takeover activity.

BHP’s £31 billion takeover tilt for Anglo American drove shares in the mining firm sharply higher and helped boost the FTSE.

It was also buoyed by rises in the value of Barclays, AstraZeneca and Unilever, who all saw a positive reaction to trading updates.

The FTSE 100 finished 38.48 points, or 0.48%, higher to end the day at 8,078.86.

Elsewhere in Europe, sentiment was much more pessimistic after a downbeat reception to previous US and Asian trading. The German Dax index was down 0.91% at the close and the Cac 40 in France ended down 0.93%.

David Morrison, senior market analyst at Trade Nation, said: “European stock indices continue to take their lead from Wall Street, with most reacting negatively to the generalised sell-off that greeted the disappointing forward guidance from Meta Platforms after Wednesday night’s close.

“But the UK’s FTSE 100 has bucked the trend and is up sharply, thanks largely to some M&A (merger and acquisition) activity, and despite sterling strength.”

Meanwhile, sterling recouped some ground against the dollar amid continued concerns in the UK over persistent inflation.

The pound was up 0.28% at 1.249 US dollars and was 0.11% higher at 1.165 euros at market close in London.

In company news, Anglo American was the day’s key riser after the London-listed firm received a £31.1 billion takeover approach from rival BHP Billiton in a potential mining mega-deal.

Investors were in high spirits after it was revealed overnight that Australia’s BHP – the world’s biggest miner – had put forward the “unsolicited” and “highly conditional” takeover proposal.

Shares in the company jumped by 355p to 2,560p as a result.

Barclays was another of the FTSE 100’s top performers despite the banking giant reporting lower profits for the start of the year.

The high street banking giant reported a group pre-tax profit of £2.3 billion for the first three months of the year, down 12%, but saw a positive reaction as this was ahead of analyst forecasts.

Barclays shares were up 12.86p at 204p at the close.

AstraZeneca was firmly higher after the pharmaceutical firm revealed soaring sales over the latest quarter amid a boost from its cancer drugs.

Shares finished up 674p at 12,026p after it revealed that total revenues jumped by 19% to 12.68 billion US dollars (£10.1 billion) for the first quarter of 2024.

Sainsbury’s shares were weaker despite the grocer reporting a better-than-expected 1.6% rise in underlying pre-tax profits, with some analysts reading more into potential weakness in its general merchandise and financial services operations.

It closed down 11.4p to 256.6p.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil was down by 0.24% to 87.81 US dollars as markets were closing in London.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Anglo American, up 355p to 2,560p, Barclays, up 12.86p to 204p, AstraZeneca, up 674p to 12,026p, Unilever, up 219p to 4,082p, and Antofagasta, up 61p to 2,227p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Legal & General, down 15.8p to 232.8p, Schroders, down 20p to 347.2p, St James’s Place, down 23p to 421p, Sainsbury’s, down 11.4p to 256.6p, and Pershing Square, down 156p to 3,838p.

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