FTSE finishes higher as Flutter soars on strong results

FTSE indices closed higher on Thursday, regaining some ground lost in the prior session, as positive jobs data boosted sentiment and Flutter Entertainment led the market higher after upbeat fourth-quarter results.

The FTSE 100 finished up 0.2% at 7,459.09, while the FTSE 250 closed 0.4% firmer at 18,948.04. The AIM All-Share ended Thursday with a 0.3% gain at 741.01.

Shares of Flutter Entertainment, owner of Paddy Power and Betfair, soared 16%, leading the blue-chips higher. The gambling group revealed double-digit revenue growth in the fourth quarter and for 2023, with total sales up 11% and 24% respectively as monthly active players increased. Flutter noted it was on track for a New York stock exchange listing by month’s end. Fellow gaming stock Entain rose nearly 6% in sympathy.

Offsetting the positivity, watches and jewellery retailer Watches of Switzerland plunged 36% after warning of a “volatile” festive trading period amid challenging economic conditions. The company said tough consumer spending would likely persist.

Among midcaps, iron ore producer Ferrexpo surged 17% after reinstating its dividend, while oil company Harbour Energy slid nearly 9% as it forecast a 28% drop in 2023 revenues.

On AIM, shares of Strategic Minerals leapt 50% as the miner welcomed back a major client that contributed to a 50% drop in 2023 sales volumes. The unnamed customer placed a new 30,000-tonne order for 2024.