Sunday 18 March 2018

ITV and Comcast merger reports boost shares

ITV has released the first festive season-themed trailer for Downton Abbey's last ever episode (ITV/PA)
ITV has released the first festive season-themed trailer for Downton Abbey's last ever episode (ITV/PA)

The London market maintained its positive momentum, as Downton Abbey broadcaster ITV soared on the back of merger reports.

The FTSE 100 Index lifted 49.7 points to 6102 amid reports that executives from US media giant Comcast have held discussions with ITV management about a tabling a bid for the UK firm, said the Mail on Sunday, without citing sources.

Shares in the commercial broadcaster, a perennial bid target, lifted 4%, or 10.4p, to 274.2p.

Markets are beginning to adjust to the US Federal Reserve decision last week which saw it raise its key interest rate for the first time in almost a decade.

The rise by 0.25%, to a range of 0.25% to 0.5%, ended a year of uncertainty over US monetary policy.

Germany's DAX was up 0.9%, while the Cac 40 in France was 0.5% higher.

With little economic news to trade on, the pound was slightly lower against the US dollar, at just under 1.49. Sterling was also marginally lower against the euro at 1.37.

Rolls-Royce was a big faller earlier in the session after a Financial Times interview with the engine-maker's chief executive, Warren East, in which he raised concerns about the performance of the group's diesel engine business.

In the interview Mr East voiced "disquiet" about trading conditions in the diesel engine unit. The diesel engine business is the only part of the broader aerospace group to have avoided a downgrade in the past five profit warnings, the FT noted.

However, shares later recovered, lifting 0.5p to 577p.

A number of retailers are also down over concerns that firms have already begun discounting in the run-up to Christmas, boosting revenues but impacting profits.

Press Association

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