StockMarketWire.com - UK markets added to their gains on Thursday as the latest business confidence indicator from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation showed an improvement in May compared to April.

As well as an uptick in overall confidence, short-term demand for permanent staff also improved. 'The worst could be behind us', said REC chief executive Neil Carberry.

By 4.35pm the FTSE 100 was up 1.4% to 6,229, its first time above the 6,200 level since the panic sell-off in March. The FTSE 250 mid-cap index gained 1.1% to 17,336.

Asset manager M&G was the biggest gainer, rising for a second day up 7.1% to 150p after confirming its ordinary and special dividends yesterday.

EasyJet rose 4.4% to 740p as the budget airline announced it would cut its workforce by up to 30% as it seeks to reduce the size of its fleet.

It also warned that demand would likely only return to pre-pandemic levels in about three years.

On the losing side were Asia-focused banks HSBC and Standard Chartered, down 3.1% to 384p and 4.7% to 392p respectively as China-US tensions mounted over Hong Kong.

MID-CAP MOVERS

On the FTSE 250, shares in Cineworld rose 21% to 93.8p on the news that the leisure group expected to reopen all cinemas by July and that it had struck a deal with its lenders to ease the terms of its debt arrangements.

Workspace operator IWG jumped 15% to 300p on the news it had raised gross proceeds of approximately £320m through a heavily discounted equity placing.

Thermal processing specialist Bodycote was 9% higher at 644p despite announcing that revenue fell 30% in April as its businesses outside of China experienced the biggest impact from the Covid-19 crisis since the third week of March.

Stagecoach accelerated 8.7% to 72.8p as it reported a significant increase in available liquidity to £814m, higher than the £308m reported in its statement of 3 April, due to new borrowing capacity.

However chief executive Martin Griffiths sounded a note of caution, warning of the 'lasting effect' of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel patterns.

PayPoint shares edged 0.8% higher to 728p as it reported pre-tax profit excluding exceptional items increased 5.6% to £56.8m in the year ended 31 March 2020 following its decision to cancel management bonuses in light of Covid-19.

The company announced it would recommend a final dividend of 15.6 pence per share.

Among AIM stocks, online fashion retailer Boohoo was buoyed 14.8% to 385p as it acquired the remaining 34% stake in subsidiary prettylittlething.com for up to £323.8m.

Newspaper group Daily Mail and General Trust lost 4% to 720p after it reported a sharp fall in profit as lost revenue following the sale of its property information business and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic weighed on growth.

For the six months ended 31 March 2020, pre-tax profit fell 44% to £56m on-year and revenue was down 5% to £690m.




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