Soaring Tesco helps FTSE but Serco plummets - London Report

BRITAIN’S top share index yesterday advanced to a five-week high as investors bought into the consumer staples and retail sectors, with ailing supermarket group Tesco leading the gainers.

The stand-out mover of the day, however, was mid-cap services outsourcer Serco, whose shares fell 32.2 per cent to 215p after saying it planned a rights issue of up to £550m, having cut forecasts and written down the value of its business.

Despite early underperformance, the mid-cap FTSE 250 index rose 0.9 per cent, while the blue-chip FTSE 100 closed up 44.01 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 6,611.25, its highest level since 1 October.

Supermarkets were in focus, too, with Tesco and Sainsbury’s ending as the top rise and the top faller respectively on the FTSE 100. Tesco was lifted 4.58 per cent to 192.90p by a more positive note from Bernstein Research.

Marks & Spencer also gained, rising 2.34 per cent to 477.10p, while Morrison jumped 1.31 per cent to 170.60p.

However, Sainsbury’s slid 2.64 per cent to 254.70p on concerns it might cut its dividend when it unveils its latest update and strategic plans tomorrow.

Just Retirement jumped nearly five per cent to 131.50p after a better than expected update. It said government reforms of the annuity market hit sales, with individual annuities down 59 per cent in its first quarter, with total sales down 42 per cent to £255m.

Genel Energy rose 7.69 per cent to 812p on hopes for its oil business in the autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan following a government statement on exports last week. UBS moved its recommendation from “neutral” to “buy”.

Aim-listed drinks group Distil surged 133 per cent to 1.4p after it signed a number of agreements for its premium brands ahead of Christmas.

Pubs group Mitchells & Butlers will stock RedLeq spiced Caribbean rum across its 102 Castle Pub estate, including the Spaniards Inn in Hampstead, north west London.

Wholesaler Booker has agreed to take the rum in its 175 cash-and-carry branches, while Sainsbury is promoting its Blackwoods gin and Tesco has listed Blackwoods vodka in northern Ireland.

Majestic Wine and Australian retailer Dan Murphy are also promoting the company’s products.

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