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Food exports to EU still well down; Enquest buys Bentley discovery

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9.30pm: New Wall Street records

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record highs, confirming the end of the Nasdaq’s 11% correction that began after its previous record high close on 12 February.

Both rose ahead of reporting by stocks accounting for 40% of the of the S&P 500’s market capitalisation such as Apple, Tesla and Facebook.

4.30pm: London closes higher

After a subdued start, the FTSE 100 picked up from lunchtime on the back of more positive sentiment in the US and closed 24.56 points higher at 6,963.12.

Standard Life Aberdeen managed a gain of 2.02% despite widespread ridiculing of its name change to “Abrdn plc” which one analyst said could deter investors (see below).

Tate & Lyle was up 5.92% after it confirmed reports it was planning to sell a controlling stake in its primary products division to a “long-term financial partner”.


3.30pm: Wall St higher ahead of tech reports

Wall Street’s main indexes rose as Tesla shares gained ahead of the electric-car maker’s earnings report, which would kick off this week’s results from heavyweight technology companies.

About 40% of the S&P 500’s market cap report from Tuesday to Thursday, including tech and related heavyweights Microsoft, Google parent Alphabet, Apple and Facebook. 


2pm: Pension Bee buzzing

PensionBee Group, the pension app developer, enjoyed a successful market debut, rising 5.8% to 178.5p.

The company’s shares were floated at 165p, valuing it at about £365m and at the latest price this had risen to £395m.


1.30pm: Highlands distillery deal

Glasgow Whisky has announced the purchase of a distillery in the highlands.

Full story here


10.15am: Food and drink exports still down

sheep

UK food and drink exports to the EU have improved from a 76% fall in January, but they are still down nearly 41% in February 2021, according to data compiled by the Food and Drink Federation.

The dairy and meat sectors were worst impacted, with sales of milk and cream to the EU down 96%, and chicken and beef down by more than three quarters. 

Exports to the UK’s biggest market, Ireland, have also dropped more than two-thirds. 


8.10am: New name for Standard Life Aberdeen

Standard Life Aberdeen is changing its name to Abrdn plc.

The firm said the new identity will be part of a ‘modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand’ and it will also be used for all the company’s client-facing businesses globally.

But there has been widespread criticism of the name change.

Full story here


8am: London opens lower

London Stock Exchange

The FTSE 100 opened lower as traders were unnerved by political turmoil around Downing Street. The index was 12 points lower at 6,926.51.

An increase in coronavirus cases in Asia is also a worry as it may dampen recovery hopes.


7am: Enquest acquires oil discovery

EnQuest, an independent oil and gas production and development company is buying Whalsay Energy Holdings entire equity interest in the Bentley oil discovery.

This discovery is within c.15 kilometres of the group’s existing Kraken and Bressay operated interests, offering further long-term potential development opportunities and other synergies. The transaction will be effected through the acquisition of Whalsay’s subsidiary, Whalsay Energy which holds the licence as its only asset, on a cash, liability and debt free basis.

On completion, EnQuest will fund certain accrued costs and obligations of WEL, expected to amount to less than $2 million. No other upfront consideration is payable. EnQuest will make deferred payments to Whalsay based on future revenues generated by WEL which are capped at $40m.


7am: Pearson growth

Strong growth in online education helped Pearson lift revenues by 5% in the first three months of 2021.

Global online learning sales jumped by 25% during the quarter offsetting declines in course assessment work and English tuition.

The education specialist said virtual schools did well, helped by students staying at home during lockdowns, especially in the US.

US assessment work though was weak again as more exams were cancelled.

COVID-19 also took a toll on demand for English tuition, particularly in Latin America though there was a slight recovery in China.  

Andy Bird, chief executive, said it had been a good start to the year in spite of a longer period of disruption from COVID-19 in the quarter compared to the previous year.


7am: Voyager to float

Voyager, the Perth-based health and wellness company established to supply Cannabidiol and hemp seed oil products, is seeking admission to the Aquis Stock Exchange Growth Market in the second quarter.

Full story here


Markets

The FTSE 100 looks set to make a subdued start despite positive news in Asia and an expectation of a bullish week on Wall Street.

In Asia earlier, the markets were buoyant as recovery hopes continued to drive sentiment.

US futures, meanwhile, point to a good start on Wall Street as traders anticipate quarterly figures from Google owner Alphabet, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Tesla and Amazon.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 0.10% while the Shanghai Composite in China slipped 0.01%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.41% and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.67%.



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