Quiet day on markets enlivened by FootAsylum share price gain

Footasylum’s huge share price rise added a kick to an otherwise quiet London market on Monday, as global equities lacked volatility with the US markets closed.

President’s Day meant American equity markets were closed for business, while a lack of domestic newsflow led to an uneventful day in UK trading.

The FTSE 100 was down just 17.21 points, or 0.24%, to 7,219.47 at the close.

European markets were similarly unmoved. The German Dax fell by 0.01% and the French Cac was up 0.3%.

Meanwhile the pound showed small signs of a rebound against the US dollar, climbing 0.21% to 1.292. Versus the euro, sterling was 0.12% higher at 1.143.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at spreadbetter Spreadex, said: “Reflecting the extent to which recent trading has been driven by the US, an America-free Monday left the European markets with little to do.”

He added that sterling was likely to see more movement on Tuesday morning, following the latest UK jobs report.

Amid the lack of developments, the star performer of British listed companies was sports footwear retailer FootAsylum, which gained 26.2p, or 90.34%, to close at 55.2p after it emerged that JD Sports had taken a stake in the company.

JD Sports told the market it had snapped up an 8.3% holding in the firm for “investment purposes”, but insisted it is not intending to make a takeover offer for the group.

Shares in JD Sports were also higher, closing up 18.2p at 467.6p.

Meanwhile on the blue-chip index, Vanish and Dettol owner Reckitt Benckiser was the top riser. The consumer products giant reported a 10% rise in full-year revenue to £12.6 billion in 2018, while operating profit rose 11% to £3 billion.

Shares climbed 279p to close at 6,296p.

FTSE 100 publisher Pearson saw its shares dip by 9.6p to 911p after announcing the sale of its K12 course materials business in the US to private equity firm Nexus Capital for 250 million US dollars (£193.5 million).

The deal will see Pearson bank an initial cash payment of 25 million US dollars (£19.3 million), with the remainder to be paid over seven years.

Other company updates included a drop in profits from convenience store chain McColl’s, but signs of recovery boosted investor sentiment and the stock closed 5.8p higher at 56.4p.

The subdued mood was also felt in oil prices, which despite making gains earlier in the day were flat at the time of writing.

A barrel of Brent crude was trading at an unchanged price of 66.34 US dollars.

“The production cuts from OPEC that came into effect this year have propelled the commodity higher,” said David Madden of CMC Markets. “Oil had a strong finish to last week, but volatility has been low today on account of the US holiday.”

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Reckitt Benckiser up 279p to 6,296p, Micro Focus up 68.5p to 1,748.5p, Next up 134p to 4,858p and Associated British Foods up 52p to 2,318p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Hikma Pharmaceuticals down 40.5p to 1,718.5p, IAG Group down 14p to 649.8p, DS Smith down 7p to 346.5p and GVC Holdings down 10.5p to 630p.