London open: Stocks edge up as housebuilders rally after Berkeley results
London stocks edged higher in early trade on Wednesday, helped along by strength in the housebuilding sector after well-received results from Berkeley Group.
At 0900 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.5% at 7,374.64.
Berkeley rallied after it increased its guidance for the current year and beyond as the housebuilder reported a 26% increase in first-half profit fuelled by its investment in London and surrounding areas. Peers Persimmon and Barratt also gained.
Man Group pushed higher after saying it would buy back up to $250m of shares to return cash to shareholders.
Upper Crust and Ritazza owner SSP advanced after it reported a widening of its full-year losses as it took a hit from Covid-related restrictions, but said revenue trends had started to improve over the summer and autumn.
On the downside, travel group Tui was in the red after it lowered winter capacity plans due to the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant as it reported its first quarterly profit since the start of the pandemic.
The company said capacity would "likely" be modified towards the lower end of winter plans of between 60% - 80%. Core earnings for the final quarter came in at €160m.
Other travel-related shares fell, with BA owner IAG, engine maker Rolls-Royce, Wizz Air and easyJet all down.
Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: "Shares in Tui have opened lower after the world’s biggest tourism company warned that bookings have already taken a hit from rising covid rates and Omicron concerns.
"Just when Tui’s prospects were finally starting look brighter with growing confidence in international travel and with America opening to tourists, Omicron prompted an about-turn in sentiment as Covid-19 continues to dismantle any hopes of near-term optimism. Many UK holidaymakers, which normally account for the biggest share of Tui’s customer base, are swapping trips abroad for staycations, put off by the constantly changing government travel restrictions and the high cost of PCR tests.
"After a series of government bailouts from Berlin, loans worth billions of euros and tens of store closures, its recent rights issue suggested that the company was hoping it was past the worst. However, Omicron threatens more pain ahead, laid bare by its share price which continues to suffer, shedding more than 50% year-to-date and nearly 80% since before the pandemic."
Elsewhere, miniature wargames manufacturer Games Workshop lost ground after it said pre-tax profits had slipped in the six months ended 28 November despite seeing sales moderately improve. It now expects interim sales to be no less than £190.0m, up from £186.8m at the same time a year, but pre-tax profits are set to be down at around £86.0m from £91.6m.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,877.00p 5.22%
Croda International (CRDA) 10,410.00p 3.48%
Abrdn (ABDN) 246.40p 2.41%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,886.00p 2.38%
Informa (INF) 508.20p 2.27%
Sage Group (SGE) 824.80p 2.26%
Ferguson (FERG) 12,495.00p 1.96%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,928.00p 1.70%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 744.40p 1.69%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,584.50p 1.67%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 129.32p -1.88%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 139.50p -1.83%
BP (BP.) 347.25p -1.04%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,676.20p -0.95%
BT Group (BT.A) 171.15p -0.90%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,680.80p -0.87%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 436.00p -0.66%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,095.00p -0.57%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 441.70p -0.41%
BAE Systems (BA.) 556.20p -0.36%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Man Group (EMG) 226.50p 4.96%
Savills (SVS) 1,408.00p 3.15%
Indivior (INDV) 233.40p 3.09%
Reach (RCH) 272.50p 2.83%
SSP Group (SSPG) 239.70p 2.79%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 360.80p 2.62%
Future (FUTR) 3,644.00p 2.42%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 313.40p 2.35%
Hill & Smith Holdings (HILS) 1,756.00p 2.33%
Bellway (BWY) 3,325.00p 2.31%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Games Workshop Group (GAW) 9,205.00p -5.69%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 208.30p -4.23%
easyJet (EZJ) 538.60p -2.81%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 190.85p -2.20%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 4,367.00p -2.00%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 91.40p -1.83%
Bytes Technology Group (BYIT) 566.00p -1.57%
Harbour Energy (HBR) 425.80p -1.02%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 212.00p -0.93%
Schroder Oriental Income Fund Ltd. (SOI) 265.00p -0.93%