FTSE Today: Stocks inch higher ahead of Easter break

London stocks inched higher ahead of Easter, led by JD Sports' sales jump and a takeover battle for Spirent.

FTSE Today: Stocks inch higher ahead of Easter break
FTSE Today

London equities edged up on Thursday, with the FTSE 100 climbing 0.3% to 7,952.62 as markets prepared to shut for the Easter holidays.

Retailer JD Sports surged 16% after reporting a 4.2% rise in like-for-like sales for the 53 weeks to February 3. On a constant currency basis, organic sales grew an impressive 8.4%. Total revenue increased 3.6% to around £10.5 billion. While full-year pretax profit is expected to fall from last year's £991.4 million to £915-£935 million, the figures exceeded January's downgraded guidance.

Medical technology firm Smith & Nephew lost 4.5% as incoming Chief Financial Officer John Rogers prepares to officially start on April 1. Rogers' appointment was first announced in November.

The FTSE 250 climbed 0.4% to 19,884.73, buoyed by a 12% jump for electricals retailer AO World after raising its annual profit outlook. AO now expects adjusted pretax profit of at least £33 million.

Telecoms tester Spirent surged 12% after agreeing to a £1.16 billion takeover bid from Keysight Technologies, topping Viavi's existing £1.01 billion offer.

The FTSE AIM All-Share index closed 0.2% higher at 743.26. Abrdn Property Income plunged 9.6% after shareholders rejected a proposed all-share merger with Custodian Property Income REIT, which rallied 8.1%. API failed to secure the required 75% approval and will now pursue a managed wind-down.

Daily Risers and Fallers

FTSE All-Share risers:
JD Sports 16%, Ao World 12%, Spirent 11.7%, Hipgnosis Song. 8.3%, Cust Prop Inc 8%.
FTSE All-Share fallers:
Abrdn Property 9.5%, Ithaca Energy 8.6%, Seraphim Sp 6%, M&G 6%, Vanquis Banking 5.5%.

Daily Recap

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