London markets make gains after Rolls-Royce and William Hill shares jump

Share jumps by Rolls-Royce and William Hill helped the London markets to edge into the green at the close of play following a midday slump.

Takeover interest in both companies helped to swing the tide of negative sentiment which dragged the other major European indices lower.

London’s top flight closed 19.89 points higher at 5,842.67 at the end of trading on Friday.

William Hill soared after it said it has received two separate takeover proposals from private equity firm Apollo and casino giant Caesars Entertainment.

The gambling giant saw shares rocket by 94.6p to 312.2p at the close amid speculation of a potential bidding war, after it told investors that talks are “ongoing” with both parties.

Investors in other gambling firms welcomed the news, sending shares in Paddy Power owner Flutter and Ladbrokes owner GVC to the top of the FTSE.

Rolls-Royce also made gains in the afternoon session following reports that the Kuwait Investment Office is in talks to buy a stake in the engineering giant.

The FTSE 100 firm, which has been heavily hit by the pandemic, closed 4.65p higher at 154.75p on the suggestion they could invest in the business. Rolls-Royce had started the day at its lowest price for 16 years.

The other major European markets finished the day lower due to growing concerns about the health crisis.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “A record number of new Covid-19 cases in France and the Netherlands has soured sentiment in mainland Europe.

“It was reported that Spain is struggling too, and there is speculation that Madrid could be facing a lockdown.”

The German Dax decreased by 1.09%, while the French Cac moved 0.69% lower.

Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones followed the FTSE in cautiously rising amid hopes that the political stand-off between the Democrats and Republicans is moving in the right direction, with respect to the coronavirus relief package.

Meanwhile, sterling slipped marginally against the strong dollar, while another rise in public sector borrowing also weighed on currency traders.

The pound fell by 0.14% versus the US dollar at 1.27 and was up 0.2% against the euro at 1.093.

In company news, Boohoo made gains despite a damning report revealing that the online fashion business knew of “endemic” problems in its Leicester factory supply chain. It closed 50.1p higher at 374.5p.

Revolution Bars shares slumped by 1.5p to 9.5p after the chain said it could shut stores as part of radical restructuring as curfew rules are expected to hammer trading.

The price of oil was steady on Friday as health fears continued to raise concerns over future demand.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil decreased by 0.53% to 41.54 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were GVC holdings up 142.8p at 998.4p; Flutter up 810p at 12,680p; Avast up 21.5p at 547.5p; M&G up 5.2p at 151.35p and Homeserve up 40p at 1,264p.

The biggest fallers were Standard Chartered down 9.2p at 336.8p; Sainsbury’s down 4.85p at 197.25p; Admiral down 49p at 2,688p; Rio Tinto down 79.5p at 4,733p and Smiths Group down 20p at 1,304.5p.