FTSE Today: Stocks rise as eyes turn to US inflation data

FTSE gains ground ahead of key US reading; M&S and Ocado rally, Auto Trader slumps.

FTSE Today: Stocks rise as eyes turn to US inflation data
FTSE Today

UK stocks climbed on Tuesday, with the FTSE 100 index closing 0.2% higher at 7,930.96, as investors awaited a crucial US inflation report due later this week.

Among the gainers, Marks & Spencer jumped 3.5%, while Ocado added 2.7% after its joint venture Ocado Retail reported an 11% surge in sales to £645.3 million for the 13 weeks to March 3. On the flip side, Auto Trader slid 4.8% after JPMorgan placed the company on "negative catalyst watch" and retained an "underweight" rating, citing a tougher 2024 outlook.

The FTSE 250 index advanced 0.8% to 19,777.64, led by a 9.8% rally in Petershill Partners. The investment group swung to a pretax profit of $397.1 million in 2023, compared to a loss of $505.1 million a year earlier, driven by a $227.0 million fair value gain on investments. Petershill proposed a final dividend of 10.1 US cents, bringing the total payout to 15.0 cents, up 3.4% year-on-year. The company also said it was considering launching a share buyback programme worth up to $100 million.

On the downside, John Wood Group slumped 7.0% despite reporting a 7.9% increase in revenue to $5.90 billion for 2023 and a narrower pretax loss of $62.7 million. The engineering firm announced a simplification programme aimed at achieving annualised cost savings of around $60 million from 2025, with an initial focus on trimming central costs by approximately $10 million this year.

In the small-cap space, Luceco shares rallied 14% after the lighting manufacturer and distributor posted a 62% jump in pretax profit to £18.9 million for 2023, as revenue edged up 1.3% to £209.0 million. Chief Executive John Hornby expressed confidence in the company's growth prospects through organic initiatives and further M&A activity.

The FTSE AIM All-Share closed up 2.26 points, 0.3%, at 739.52.

Daily Risers and Fallers

FTSE All-Share risers:
Petrofac 13.9%, Luceco 13.8%, Petershill 9.5%, ASOS 9.3%, Barr (A.G.) 9.34%.
FTSE All-Share fallers:
Cab Payments -9.8%, Wood Group (J) -6.9%, Wag Payment -6.7%, Ferrexpo -6.1%, Xaar -5.9%.

Daily Recap

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