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Sage remains upbeat; AssetCo swoops on Scots firm


4.45pm: London recovers

Stocks staged a strong recovery to end the week on a high following recent inflation-induced volatility. The FTSE 100 closed 80.28 points (1.15%) higher at 7,043.61.

4.40pm: New Northern Ireland First Minister

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots elected leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, succeeding Arlene Foster who resigned earlier this month.

11am: Inquiry into Gupta empire

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said today it is launching a fraud and money laundering investigation into steelworks owner Sanjeev Gupta’s business empire.

Full story here

8am: London higher

The FTSE 100 rose in line with forecasts (see below), trading up 49 points at 7,012.47.

7am: Sage improves

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Accounting software company Sage said it expected annual organic revenue growth to be near the top of guidance after investment in its cloud operation caused an 11% decline in underlying first half profit to £191m in the six months to the end of March.

The 4.4% rise in organic recurring revenue to £811m in the six months to end-March was better than expected and said it now expected growth for the year to be towards the top end of its 3% to 5% range.

The half-year dividend is lifted by 2% to 6.05p.

Steve Hare, chief executive, said: Sage performed strongly in the first half against tough comparators, with continued recurring revenue growth and increasing levels of new customer acquisition, principally in cloud native solutions.

“We believe that small and medium-sized businesses will lead the recovery, and I am confident that our strategic investment in Sage Business Cloud will continue to accelerate growth as customers become stronger and more digitally-enabled.”

7am: Saracen Fund Managers acquired

AssetCo, the acquisition vehicle chaired by former Standard Life Aberdeen co-CEO Martin Gilbert, has acquired Edinburgh-based Saracen Fund Managers in a cash and shares deal.

Full story here

Overseas markets

The FTSE 100 is poised to end a volatile week on a high by regaining yesterday’s losses after a rally on Wall Street last night.

Spread betters indicate the FTSE 100 will open 42 points higher, taking it back above 7,000.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 is up 622 points while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng is 261 points firmer

All three of the key US stock indexes were sharply higher, bouncing back from three days of steep falls. The S&P 500 enjoyed its biggest percentage gain in over a month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 433.79 points, or 1.29%, while the S&P 500 was 49.46 points, or 1.22%, higher and the Nasdaq Composite took on 93.31 points, or 0.72% despite tech stocks being most exposed to the slump.

Tesla continued to slip, falling 3.1% on the Nasdaq after boss Elon Musk’s sudden rejection of cryptocurrency bitcoin over its impact on the environment. Tesla’s shares sank 3.2% to $571.08, their lowest level in over two months.

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