(Reuters) – London’s FTSE 100 gained on Thursday as Ferguson surged to an eight-month high after activist investor Nelson Peltz bought into the plumbing products distributor, while oil majors rose as crude prices shot up after reports of a tanker incident near Iran.
The FTSE 100 rose 0.3%, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 was roughly flat by 0758 GMT.
Ferguson jumped 6.5% to the top of the main index after Peltz’s Trian Fund disclosed a stake of almost 6% in the company.
Shares of the company, formerly known as Wolseley, were on course for their best day in more than a year after Trian said it would work with Ferguson to explore initiatives to create long term value for shareholders.
Shell was of the biggest influencers the blue-chip index as crude prices, which slipped more than 3.5% on Wednesday, rebounded on reports of a tanker on fire in the Gulf of Oman. [O/R]
Fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown rose 1.6%, after having lost more than 16% this month following money manager Neil Woodford’s suspension of a flagship fund backed by the company.
But gains on the market were capped by a 2.8% fall in Marks and Spencer after the clothing and food retailer said it received valid acceptances of roughly 85.14% shares for a rights issue.
Peer Tesco dropped 1.6% after Britain’s biggest retailer said its underlying sales growth slowed in the latest quarter.
“Whilst no one thought the Christmas boost would carry through completely into the first quarter, these are mildly disappointing results. The threat from discounters is not going away,” Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson said.
Companies trading ex-dividend, where stocks have passed the day of the year when they no longer carry the right to the company’s next dividend, also fell, with hosebuilder Persimmon down 5% and ad firm WPP 3.5%.
Just Group climbed 10.6% on the mid-cap index. The specialist pension provider said in a statement ahead of its annual general meeting that it was focused on delivering “capital self-sufficiency” by 2022.
AIM-listed Majestic Wine slumped 6.3% after it suspended its dividend due to the sale of its retail business and said Chairman Greg Hodder would resign.
Liberum analysts called Hodder a “highly regarded” executive and said his departure was an unexpected surprise.
(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)