FTSE Close: EU stocks rise on rate cut hopes, Funding Circle jumps 55%

European stock markets closed higher on Thursday, lifted by expectations of lower interest rates in both Europe and the US.

The FTSE 100 edged up 0.2% to 7,692.46, the FTSE 250 climbed 0.6% to 19,583.98, and the AIM All-Share closed flat at 737.90.

Funding Circle, the small and medium enterprise loans platform, was the star performer, its share price soaring 55%. The company’s operating income rose to £154.8 million from £133.7 million a year earlier, although its pretax loss widened to £33.2 million from £12.9 million. Funding Circle also announced a £25 million share buyback.

Virgin Money jumped 35% after a takeover offer from Nationwide. The all-cash offer worth 220 pence per Virgin Money share would create the UK’s second-largest provider of mortgages and savings.

Daily Recap

Rentokil surged 18% after launching its ‘The Right Way 2 Plan’ strategy to boost organic growth in North America. The pest control firm’s pretax profit jumped 67% to £493 million from £296 million in 2022, with earnings per share climbing 31% and revenue rising 45%.

Entain, the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, however, fell 4.9% on gambling sector regulatory concerns. The company expects short-term disruptions for players due to the nearing conclusion of the UK regulatory review and proposed tighter deposit limits in the Netherlands. Entain’s 2023 results were mixed, with a pretax loss of £842.6 million but an 11% revenue increase to £4.78 billion.

Daily Risers and Fallers

FTSE All-Share risers: Digital 9 25.66%, Premier Foods 11.53%, TUI AG 9%, Lsl Prop 8.4%, Genus 7.59%, ConvaTec 6.1%, Funding Circle 6.06%, Hipgnosis Song. 5.31%, PureTech 5.21%, International Airlines 4.79%.

FTSE All-Share fallers: Capita -22.45%, Headlam -6.09%, Zotefoams -5.29%, Ibstock -4.95%, Robert Walters -4.62%, Hunting -3.85%, Porvair -3.73%, Videndum Plc -3.66%, Ct Priv. Ord -3.42%, Wag Payment -3.33%.