Interactive Investor

Shares round-up: PM’s boost for BAE, Lloyds Bank recovers, Filtronic

It’s been a busy day for financial markets, with the FTSE 100 hitting another record high and excitement among small-caps, one of which was up as much as 60% today.

24th April 2024 15:44

by Graeme Evans from interactive investor

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A fresh high for BAE Systems (LSE:BA.), a turnaround in fortunes for Lloyds Banking Group (LSE:LLOY) and progress by miners including Glencore (LSE:GLEN) today has helped the FTSE 100 index to another record high.

The latest landmark for BAE, with its shares up another 3% or 40p to 1,380p, followed prime minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to boost UK defence spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2030.

Lloyds was not far behind, having been among the biggest blue-chip fallers a few hours earlier.

First-quarter results were slightly short on net interest income, but analysts at Bank of America said the “messy” set of figures should not detract from an improved outlook after management reiterated earnings and capital generation targets for 2024.

The City bank, which has a price target of 60p for Lloyds, said this afternoon: “A better margin trend is a positive but balance sheet growth is now important after a weaker Q1.”

Lloyds shares rose 1.2p to 52.5p, up from 49.7p in the opening minutes of trading and extending the run that’s taken shares from just above 41p in mid-February.

Mining stocks also offered support to the FTSE 100 index, which peaked at a fresh intraday high of 8,092 before settling shortly after the US opening bell 28.15 points higher at 8072.96.

Rio Tinto Registered Shares (LSE:RIO) improved by 165p to 5,482p and Glencore by 7.25p to 475.5p after a robust session for copper and other commodity prices due to an improving demand outlook.

BP (LSE:BP.) shares also showed appetite for revisiting their recent six-month high after adding 6.9p to 530p, while Shell (LSE:SHEL) was back within reach of a record following a rise of 23.1p to 2,918p.

The blue-chip heavyweights were joined on the risers board by Bunzl (LSE:BNZL) after the distribution and services business reported a first-quarter revenues decline in line with forecasts at 5.4%.

Shares rose 50p to 3,104p as long-serving boss Frank van Zanten reiterated guidance. He added: “After a strong start to the year for acquisitions, our pipeline is active and our balance sheet remains strong.

Among the fallers, specialty chemicals firm Croda International (LSE:CRDA) reversed 185p to 4,703p after reporting a decline in first-quarter sales of 10% on constant currency terms to £409 million.

This followed quarter-on-quarter improvements in the consumer and industrial divisions but not for life sciences, which continues to face challenging market conditions in crop protection.

It was also a weaker session for Marks & Spencer Group (LSE:MKS) after strong gains earlier this week. The shares, which City bank Jefferies backed on Monday with a 310p target, fell back 6.7p to 256.2p.

Outside the top flight, PZ Cussons (LSE:PZC) led the FTSE 250 index after it said it would consider future ownership of its St Tropez tanning business and evaluate strategic options in Africa, where the company has been hit by the decline of the naira in its largest market of Nigeria.

Chief executive Jonathan Myers said: “The actions we are taking will crystallise value for our investors from assets better suited to alternative ownership structures.

“This will enable us to invest our resources in the key geographies and categories in which we can win and generate superior returns.

The company, whose leading hygiene brands include Carex and Imperial Leather, rose 5.4p to trade at 100p for the first time since March.

On AIM, Filtronic (LSE:FTC) shares jumped 15p, or 45%, to a multi-year high of 48p after the wireless communications firm lifted guidance for the 2024 and 2025 financial years and announced a strategic partnership with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The agreement will see the Leeds and Sedgefield-based company supply modules across multiple frequency bands core to SpaceX’s Starlink platform.

As part of the partnership, SpaceX has committed to ongoing orders for the next five years to ensure Filtronic remains a key part of its supply chain. The AIM-listed company has also issued warrants that will enable SpaceX to subscribe for up to a maximum of 10% of shares.

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