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Industrials and leisure stocks boost UK shares higher; Ted Baker rallies

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By Reuters
Defensive shares prop up UK's FTSE 100
Defensive shares prop up UK's FTSE 100   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

By Sruthi Shankar and Devik Jain

– Gains in industrials and leisure stocks drove Britain’s share indexes higher on Monday, with investors closely tracking developments around the Russia-Ukraine crisis, while fashion retailer Ted Baker jumped after launching a formal sale process.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 closed up 0.3%. Drugmaker AstraZeneca rose 0.7, while precious metals, defence and homebuilders stocks were up between 1.4% and 2.8%.

The domestically-focussed mid-cap index ended 0.5% higher, with gambling company 888 Holdings’s shares climbing 6.7% to top the index.

The wider travel and leisure index gained 1.5%.

Ted Baker surged 14.4% after it said it was open to selling itself at the right price. Private equity firm Sycamore improved its takeover proposal and another third party also showed interest.

“Takeover interest in British companies is at fever pitch, as valuations have come down following the challenging cocktail of the pandemic and Brexit,” said Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“To that end, it isn’t wholly surprising that there’s a lot of interest in Ted Baker.”

Meanwhile, Bank of England Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe said that the central bank may not need to take sustained action to prevent inflation expectations from becoming engrained in public thinking, as there were few signs of this to date.

Surging commodity prices have raised concerns about inflation and tighter monetary policies, but the FTSE 100 has remained resilient this year due to the presence of large energy and mining companies on the index.

Germany’s defence minister said the European Union must discuss banning the import of Russian gas after Ukrainian and European officials accused Russian forces of committing atrocities near Kyiv.

Among individual stocks, insurer Just Group climbed 5.8% after Barclays upgraded the stock to “overweight” and raised its price target.

Morrisons, Britain’s fourth-biggest grocer and a major food producer, warned its sales and core profit for the year could be hit by Ukraine crisis and rising inflation unless conditions improve.

Shares of supermarket groups Tesco and Sainsbury’s were down 1.1% and 0.7%, respectively.