StockMarketWire.com - The FTSE 100 was down 0.4% to 6,907.48 by midday as investors continued to weigh Covid risks and even as US futures markets suggested a recovery on Wall Street later.

US stocks were materially weaker on Thursday on the Biden administration's latest tax plans.

Back in the UK, retail sales jumped by 5.4% in March from February, the Office for National Statistics said.

Public transport company FirstGroup rose 11.5% to 96.85p after entering into an agreement to sell its First Student and First Transit businesses to EQT Infrastructure for £3.3 billion.

The company proposed to return about £365 million of the proceeds, about 30 pence per share, to shareholders during the current calendar year.

Oil and gas exploration company Baron Oil climbed 11% to 0.11p after it said it had completed its earn-in for an increased stake in the Chuditch discovery and prospects.

Baron increased its shareholding in SundaGas from 33.33% to 85%, and thereby increased its indirect stake in the TL-SO-19-16 PSC, the Chuditch project, offshore Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste from 25% to 63.75%. Audioboom was up 6.59% to 703.5p after the podcast company said it expected annual revenue to 'significantly' top market expectations as strong sales momentum continued, reflected in a positive opening to 740p before setting at 730p per share.

Real Estate company LondonMetric Property fell 0.5% 226.60p after it sold two assets let to M&S and Wickes in Derby for a combined consideration of £11.1 million at a blended NIY of 6.0% and a 7% surplus to the last reported book value.

Investment fund Fidelity Special Values slipped 0.3% to 281.75p after reporting a rise in total returns that was 'significantly' ahead of its benchmark in the first half of the year thanks to a jump in value stocks.

For six month period to 28 February 2021, net asset value total return of 24.3% and a share price total return of 36.5%, compared to a total return of 12.0% for the FTSE All-Share Index, the company's benchmark index.

Commercial property investment firm UK Commercial Property REIT 0.7% to 75.6p after reporting a net loss for the year of £10.3 million - a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fulham Shore climbed 1.6% to 16.25p after the restaurant operator said it is targeting new locations for its restaurants following 'very encouraging' sales since reopening.

'Group sales in the week ended Sunday 18 April 2021 were very encouraging, being not only ahead of the previous week, but also ahead of the same week two years ago in April 2019,' the company said.


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