ravel-based stocks are among those higher today as the London market continues to shake off uncertainty around the Omicron variant.
British Airways owner IAG rose and the FTSE 100 index rallied, despite the return of pre-departure Covid-19 checks in the UK.
The improvement in London came despite a weak session for Asia markets, driven by fears over debt-laden developer Evergrande after it said it could not guarantee having enough funds to meet repayments.
The price of bitcoin was also closely watched after the cryptocurrency slumped by $10,000 in a matter of minutes on Saturday. It has since steadied to stand at just over $48,000.
Irn Bru owner AG Barr buys oat milk maker Moma Foods in firm’s first step into wellness market
Irn Bru owner A.G. Barr has made a first move into the wellness market, signing a deal to buy Deptford-based oat milk and porridge maker Moma Foods.
The Scottish firm has taken an initial 60% stake in Moma – the UK’s third-biggest oat milk brand – and agreed a path to full ownership over the next three years.
AG Barr is looking to capitalise on soaring demand for plant-based milks, which has seen rival Oatly valued in the billions.
Boss Roger White said he is delighted to be entering such a “fast-growing category”.
It comes as competition in the space heats up and firms look to invest. Fellow listed soft drink producer Britvic snapped up another London-based health drink brand, Plenish, earlier this year.
Shares rose 1.2%, or 6.3p, to 526p, this morning on the update.
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Franco Manca owner Fulham Shore swings to profit as theatreland and City restaurants top 2019 takings
Fulham Shore, the firm behind Franco Manca and The Real Greek, has revealed its central London restaurants traded above 2019 levels in November as people headed out around the capital.
The AIM-listed company also reported returning to a modest profit in the six months to September 26 despite operating with restrictions during much of the period. (Franco Manca in particular took advantage of the lockdown takeaways boom).
It reported post-tax profits of £2.4 million for the half, from a £3 million loss in the same period last year.
Chairman David Page said the company expects the group’s full year performance to top market expectations.
Shares surged as much as 8% in early trading on the update.
IAG, easyJet rise despite new travel rules
The FTSE 100 index is 46.12 points higher at 7168.44, with travel-based stocks among those higher despite the re-introduction of pre-departure Covid-19 tests.
British Airways owner IAG rose 2.3p to 134p and hotels group InterContinental lifted 77p to 4621p near the top of the blue-chip risers board. Oil giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell also offered support.
BT Group shares rose 2.5p to 171.1p after it was reported to be in talks with America’s Discovery about a potential joint venture for their sports businesses.
Taylor Wimpey also added 1.55p to 164.55p amid speculation that activist investor Elliott has taken a stake in the housebuilder. In contrast, Persimmon fell 37p to 2769p near the top of the FTSE 100 fallers board.
The FTSE 250 index rose 124.51 points to 22,770.59, with easyJet 2% higher. Shipping broker Clarkson also jumped 5% after it raised full-year forecasts.
BenevolentAI heads for Euronext listing
Cambridge-based BenevolentAI, which uses big data and deep learning to discover more effective medicines, has been valued at up to 1.5 billion euros (£1.3 billion) in one of Europe’s biggest special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) mergers.
The combination with Odyssey also creates one of Euronext Amsterdam’s largest ever biotech listings.
Founded in 2013, BenevolentAI has built a AI-based drug discovery platform that enables the delivery of drug candidates with a higher probability. It recently discovered a treatment for Covid-19 which has been approved by the US healthcare regulator.
The funds will be used to accelerate BenevolentAI’s development, scale-up its clinical pipeline and continue investment in its technology platform.
Evergrande slumps, bitcoin recovers
Evergrande shares have dived to an 11-year low after the struggling property developer warned there was no guarantee it had enough funds to meet debt obligations.
The 12% slide took place at the end of a 30-day grace period for the repayment of $82.5 million, which was originally due on November 6.
With Evergrande holding liabilities worth a reported $300 billion, any default has the potential to spark contagion across Asia’s property sector.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index reflected the Evergrande jitters on Monday, with worries over the Omicron variant of Covid-19 also contributing to a 1.7% decline.
The mood of European markets appears to be more resilient at the start of the week, with CMC Markets forecasting that the FTSE 100 index will open 48 points higher at 7,170.
The improvement continues the recent choppy trading performance after the FTSE 100 index closed lower on Friday following disappointing monthly US jobs figures.
On the commodity market, Brent crude futures rose 2.5% to $71.56 a barrel after Saudi Arabia raised January prices to Asian and US customers by $0.60 a barrel.
Bitcoin stood at $48,206 after a wild weekend in which the cryptocurrency fell by $10,000 in the space of a few minutes on Saturday.
The low of near to $42,000 compares with $57,000 earlier on Friday and was blamed on jitters caused by the Omicron variant.