StockMarketWire.com - The FTSE 100 gained 1.6% to 6,588.53 by the close as the bond market settled after recent volatility. In the US the S&P 500 was up 2.2% to 3,894.92 by 4.30pm UK time.

Stocks also benefited from leaks ahead of Wednesday's budget, with plans for a mortgage guarantee scheme lifting the housebuilding sector.

Halfords, a motoring and cycling products and services provider, upgraded its outlook on profit, citing a strong-than-expected performance during its fiscal fourth quarter of the year. The shares surged 7.8% to 312p.

Distribution and services group Bunzl gained 0.8% to £22.55, even as it reported a rise in profit driven by sales of higher priced Covid-19-related products.

Bunzl declared a full-year dividend of 54.1p per share, up 5.5% on-year, but said it did not expect a repeat of large Covid-related orders in 2021.

Telecoms giant BT gained 2.3% to 126.4p on announcing that chairman Jan du Plessis would stand down in 2021, once a successor had been appointed.

Newspaper publisher Reach dropped 8.6% to 218p, having booked a steep fall in annual profit as print sales continued to slump, though it reinstated its dividend citing growth prospects.

Reach's pre-tax profit for the year to 27 December plunged to £0.4 million, down from £120.9 million year-on-year. It declared a final dividend of 4.26p per share.

Power company Aggreko was up 1.3% to 810.5p despite it swinging to a full-year loss pinned on the pandemic.

Aggreko also declared a final dividend of 10p per share amid signs of a recovery across its markets.

Precious metal miner Polymetal climbed 1.5% to £14.43 on announcing that its reserves estimates had risen 10%, driven by initial estimates at its Kyzyl and Voro projects, in Kazakhstan and Russia, respectively.

Supermarket group Morrisons dipped 0.5% to 170p, having extended a wholesale supply agreement with convenience store chain McColl's Retail, which leapt 9.2% to 26p on the news.

As part of the agreement, 300 McColl's convenience stores would be converted to the Morrisons Daily format over the next three years.

Tool and equipment hire group Speedy Hire jumped 4.4% to 66.8p on guiding for an annual profit 'well ahead' of current market expectations.

Speedy Hire also announced the sale of its Middle East business to ADNOC Logistics and Services for $18 million.

Wagamama owner Restaurant Group rallied 3.3% to 112.5p as it secured £500 million of long-term debt, coming with no leverage tests on covenants until June 2022.


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