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STV restores divi, repays furlough; Greggs first loss; Wood loss
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4.30pm: AstraZeneca rises despite vaccine concern
The FTSE 100 closed at 6,803.61, up 53.91 points (0.80%) as equity traders shrugged off concerns about the pace of the EU’s vaccine rollout, after health regulators again offered their support to AstraZeneca‘s Covid-19 jab.
Its shares rose 3.2% after the EU’s drug regulator said Tuesday it remained “firmly convinced” of the benefits of the drugmaker’s coronavirus vaccine despite several countries suspending its use over blood clot fears.
The company also extended an existing agreement with the US government to supply up to 500,000 additional doses of AZD7442, a Covid-19 antibody.
9am: SMIT rises again
The FTSE 100 made a positive start after a sluggish session on Monday and was trading 46.5 points higher at 6,796.19.
Wall Street ended in a perkier mood, which appears to have buoyed sentiment on this side of the Atlantic.
Baillie Gifford managed Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, one of the UK’s biggest investors in Silicon Valley, continued its recovery from the tech slump and jumped 2.2% in early trade, buoyed by the strong performance of the tech-led NASDAQ index and the valuation of US payments firm Stripe in which it is an investor.
7am: STV dividend and furlough
STV has reinstated its cash dividend and is repaying the furlough grant received from the government.
The Glasgow-based broadcaster is proposing a 6p payout to shareholders (2020 full year: 9p) as a measure of the board’s confidence in STV’s growth.
The furlough grant of £1.6 million is to be repaid in full, reflecting STV’s improving financial performance.
Adjusted profit before tax came in at £16.6m (2019: £21m).
Total revenues for the group were £107m (2019: £124m), driven by lower linear advertising revenues and fewer programme deliveries. Total advertising revenue was £91m for the year, down 10% on 2019, a marked improvement on the H1 position when the market declined by 20%.
A Resilient Q1 has seen total advertising revenue down only 3% despite lockdown.
Energy group Wood swung to a £228 million loss for the year to 31 December against a £73m profit in 2019.
Revenue fell 23.5% to $7.6bn and on a like for like basis by 20.2% to $7.5bn.
It said the order book was 17% down on 2019 reflecting “macro conditions and discerning bidder approach”.
The company said actions were taken to reduce cost, protect the balance sheet and generate strong cashflow which enabled margin protection and net debt reduction.
Fast food retailer Greggs has reported its first annual loss since listing in 1984 as the pandemic drove away office and shop workers.
In the year to 2 January it reported a pretax loss of £13.7m, against a record profit of £108.3m in 2019.
Total sales fell 31% to £811m.
Greggs said its top line made a “progressive recovery” during the second half of 2020 and also hailed a “better-than-expected” start to its new financial year as it seeks to rebound from the Covid-19 crisis.
The FTSE 100 was predicted to rise following a strong finish for Wall Street overnight.
London’s blue chip index was forecast to open around 31 points higher, after a late drop into the red the previous day, when it closed down 12 points at 6,749.7.
US stocks had an up and down day before closing on a bullish note, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 up 0.5% and 0.7% to new record highs.