FTSE 250 movers: Pub owners pace gains as lockdown blues fade
London's second-tier index pushed back towards its most recent highs on Wednesday, likely helped by optimism that lockdown restrictions could perhaps be eased towards the end of the first quarter, if not sooner.
Speaking overnight, Bank of England chief economist, Andy Haldane, sounded a confident note on the prospects for a strong economic rebound.
Indeed, investors appeared to brush aside the results from a small study in South Africa which appeared to confirm some scientists concerns that the new Covid-19 strain detected there might blunt the effectiveness of some vaccines.
Against that backdrop, the FTSE 250 added 1.35% to 20,881.46.
Stock in Mitchells&Butlers paced gains, as investors cheered news that rival JD Wetherspoons had successfully raised £93.7m of fresh financing to pursue acquisitions and preserve cash.
Shares in both companies broke past important near-term levels of technical resistance on the news.
TI Fluid System was another top gainer, with sentiment towards the sector aided by figures in China showing continued strength in the Asian giant's passenger car market in December.
The year-on-year rate of unit sales in China was 7.7% or 2.4m units in absolute terms, a three-year high.
At the bottom of the pile meanwhile was Wood Group, after analysts at Jefferies downgraded oil equipment services outfit's shares to underperform.
"We see significant downward revisions ahead to 2021 consensus revenue," they said in a research note sent to clients.
"We allow for a positive market recovery bias in our 260p/sh price target, +20p on previous but after the strong rally in recent months we expect top-line reality to pressure the stock."
EasyJet was also lower amid a flurry of analysts' notes on the outlook for the budget carrier, with Barclays and Credit Suisse raising their target prices but JP Morgan doing the opposite.
For their part, analysts at Citi reiterated their call to 'sell' shares in the carrier.
FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,835.20 1.13%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 279.00p 9.41%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,699.00p 9.26%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 206.00p 6.40%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 211.20p 6.13%
Diploma (DPLM) 2,260.00p 6.00%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 246.95p 5.83%
Herald Investment Trust (HRI) 2,325.00p 5.68%
Renishaw (RSW) 6,170.00p 5.65%
Aggreko (AGK) 674.50p 5.47%
Ascential (ASCL) 371.80p 4.91%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Avon Rubber (AVON) 3,220.00p -5.85%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 313.30p -4.74%
AO World (AO.) 347.50p -3.87%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 118.90p -3.65%
Premier Foods (PFD) 99.20p -3.50%
Elementis (ELM) 113.10p -3.25%
IWG (IWG) 325.60p -2.81%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 185.20p -2.58%
easyJet (EZJ) 829.60p -1.85%
Howden Joinery Group (HWDN) 685.20p -1.35%