StockMarketWire.com - The FTSE 100 was up 0.2% to 6,755.62 by midday, its progress stunted by sterling strength against the dollar.

US futures suggested stocks would hit new record highs on Wall Street as 46th president Joe Biden gets his feet firmly under the table in the Oval Office.

Sage Group has reported a near 5% rise in recurring revenue for the final three months of 2020, as it confirms plans to 'progressively increase investment' over the coming year.

The group's recurring revenue increased by 4.7% to £408 million, supported by software subscription growth of 11.3% to £303 million. As a result, subscription penetration increased to 68% (FY20: 65%).

Its share price was up 3.2% at 591.4p

Sports-betting and gaming entertainment Entain reported a rise in Q4 net gaming revenue as strong online revenue helped offset the impact on retail performance as it shuttered its shops amid government-enforced restrictions.

The company also reported that Jette Nygaard-Andersen was appointed chief executive officer. However, its share price took a tumble in early morning trading, falling nearly 0.8% to £12.60.

Meanwhile, FTSE 250-listed banking group Close Brothers reported growth in its banking and asset management businesses thanks to 'strong' loan demand and trading performance. Its share price rose 3.7% on the back of the announcement, reaching £14.72.

In banking, the loan book increased 6.5% to £8.1 billion from £7.6 billion reported 31 July 2020.

The asset management division generated annualised net inflows of 5.4%, with managed assets rising to £13.9 billion from £12.6 billion and total client assets increasing to £15.0 billion from £13.7 billion, primarily reflecting favourable market movements, the company said.

Online trading platform IG said first-half profit more than doubled as strong trading activity had continued amid an influx of new clients.

For the six months ended 30 November 2020, pre-tax profit jumped 129% to £231.3 million as trading revenue jumped 67% to £416.9 million year-on-year.

Its share price, however, fell 3.1% following the announcement and was 876p at the time of writing.

Clay brinks maker Ibstock lifted its guidance on earnings following cost cuts and 'strong' performance in the fourth quarter of the year.

For the year ended 31 December 2020, the company said it now expects to report adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, deprecition and amortisation, or EBITDA, 'modestly above' the previous guidance of £50 million.

The news was well received by the market and saw its share price rise 10.9% to 218.4p.

Elsewhere, homebuilder Countryside Properties reported a rise in first-quarter completions, in line with expectations, and said it plans to expand regionally were on track and progress had been made on separating its two divisions.

For the 13-week period from 1 October 2020 to 31 December 2020, completions were up 17% to 1,280 homes from a year earlier, and net reservation rate was 0.53, down from 0.81.

The share price had a volatile start to the day, but remained up 0.9% to 431.8p.

Promotional products marketer 4imprint said it expected profit in line with its expectations as the recovery in order intake continued into the final quarter of the year.

For the year ended 2 January 2021, underlying pre-tax for the full year 2020 was expected to be in line with the company's expectations, while revenue was approximately $560.0 million, a decrease of 35% compared with 2019.

The announcement boosted the company's share price by 3.5% to £23.40.

The recovery in order intake continued into the final two months of 2020, resulting in order intake for the fourth quarter on a like-for-like basis of 70% of the prior year, the company said.

In the retail sector, Pets at Home has announced a revenue growth of 18%, to £302 million, in the 12 weeks up to 2 January, 2021.

Its share price rose 2% following the announcement to 411.4p.


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