- News that the US Senate approved corporate tax cuts over the weekend provided the FTSE 100 with a 0.4% boost to 7,332 as companies with significant US sales enjoyed the biggest uplift.

Among these were building materials business CRH (CRH), Carnival (CCL) and equipment hire company Ashtead (AHT), which gained up to 2.8%.

Brent crude oil dipped 0.7% to $63.26 per barrel. Copper was up 0.2% at $3.07 per pound and gold nudged 0.5% lower to $1,272 per ounce.


Shares in coach operator National Express (NEX) were up 1.9% at 371.7p on strong trading in autumn and an encouraging start to Christmas trading. It also announced new acquisitions in both Spain and the US to further expand its markets.

Miner Rio Tinto (RIO) appointed current non-executive director Simon Thompson as chairman from 5 March, who will take over from Jan du Plessis. The news caused the share price to move 1.1% higher to £35.39.


In the pharmaceutical space, Circassia (CIR) reported successful results from its Phase IV study on its Tudorza chronic obstructive pulmonary disease treatment, helping the shares rise 4.5% to 105.2p.

Biopharma company PureTech Health (PRTC) said affiliate Akili Interactive Labs reported positive results from its study in paediatric attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, causing the shares to jump 8.4% to 139.1p.

Motor retailer Pendragon (PDG) unveiled a strategy update, including the commencement of its sale process for its US division for £100m. An extra £100m could be gained from Pendragon scaling back its new car business in the UK, focusing on used cars and the resumption of its share buyback programme. Shares in the company accelerated 3.5% to 26.1p.

On AIM, life sciences firm TyraTech (TYR) more than doubled to 2.8p on plans to focus on its animal health products and the sale of its human lice treatment Vamousse to Alliance Pharma (APH) for $13m. According to the company, approximately $8.5m of the funds will be returned to shareholders.

Engineering group Versarien (VRS) signed an agreement with a global chemical supplier, which will allow both companies to collaborate across several projects, causing the shares to soar 40.5% to 85p.

Marketing services business Communisis (CMS) appointed Steve Rawlins to chief financial officer and to the company's board of directors, although a lack of updates on trading expectations weighed on the stock. Shares in Communisis dipped 2.4% to 60.5p.

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