British trading companies are booming ahead of a crackdown on high-risk markets betting by the European financial watchdog.
CMC Markets posted a 24 per cent rise in profits in the year to March 31, a sign its new focus on targeting wealthier traders is paying off.
The shift of strategy is in part a response to a European curb on binary options and contracts for difference, which let punters to bet on markets going up or down.
The rules are set to be introduced later in the summer and are designed to stop novice traders losing big sums of money.
Boom time: CMC Markets posted a 24 per cent increase in profits in the year to March 31, a sign its new focus on targeting wealthier traders is paying off
CMC, founded by former Conservative Party treasurer Peter Cruddas, says it is already meeting many of the requirements.
However, rival Plus500 said it was unsure what effect the rules will have as it reported a surge in new customers.
In a trading update, the Israeli business said a boom in the popularity of cryptocurrencies meant it had a record quarter of trading in the first three months of the year.
CMC shares hopped 4.4 per cent, or 8.2p, to 195.2p while Plus500 shot up 6.8 per cent, or 110p, to 1722p.
The FTSE 100 failed to make up ground it lost when a glitch halted trading yesterday, closing 0.1 per cent, or 7.97, points lower at 7704.4. The FTSE 250 edged 0.08 per cent, or 16.69 points, lower to 21,154.71.
Communications giant Vodafone and Sainsbury’s supermarket went ex-dividend, pushing shares near the bottom of the blue-chip index. Vodafone shares lost 4.6 per cent, or 9.1p, ending the day at 187.52p, while Sainsbury’s shares were off 3 per cent, or 9.5p, at 303.6p.
Stock Watch – Zinc Media
Zinc Media soared after the TV show producer signed up with a US talent agent, as part of ambitious plans to crack America.
ICM, which has represented producers who have worked on shows such as The Simpsons and Modern Family, will try to secure commissions for Zinc.
Separately, Zinc said Channel 4 had commissioned a subsidiary to produce a third series of Britain at Low Tide.
Another is doing a crime series for the BBC. Shares fell 30 per cent, or 0.15p, to 0.65p.
FTSE 250 gambling software maker Playtech sold its entire £198million stake in GVC, the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral bookmakers, to pay down its debt and pay for acquisitions.
Separately, a shareholder revolt at GVC’s annual meeting resulted in the forced resignation of non-executive director Peter Isola.
Shares fell 0.9 per cent, or 7.2p, lower to 804.6p while GVC’s shares skipped 1.9 per cent, or 20p, higher to 1056p.
Auto Trader shares kicked up a gear after a solid set of full-years. The car marketplace increased revenue 7 per cent to £330.1million and pre-tax profit by 10 per cent to £210.8million.
The figures were boosted by rising second-hand car prices and its decision to allow customers to search for cars based on the monthly payment, rather than the sticker price. Shares revved 8.8 per cent, or 31p, higher to 385p.
Analysts at Citi backed Capita turnaround efforts, giving the outsourcer a ‘buy’ rating for the first time in more than five years. The broker also raised the firm’s target price from 104p to 160p.
Ed Steele, an analyst at Citi, said: ‘Capita should have reached its nadir.’ Shares were up 7.5 per cent, or 10.5p, to 150.05p.
Broker Peel Hunt raised the target price of Legoland owner Merlin Entertainments by 75p to 450p on the strength of its new attractions, such as Peppa Pig World of Play and the Bear Grylls Adventure, a theme park for adults.
But the backing did not do much for the shares, which eked out a tiny 0.1 per cent, or 0.4p, rise to 380.4p.
NewRiver Reit, the FTSE 250 property investment firm, snapped up Grays Shopping Centre, in Essex, for £20.2million.
Wilko, Poundland, Iceland and Peacocks all have stores there. Shares reversed 0.7 per cent, or 2p, to 287.5p.
Shares in Veltyco, a marketing company to the gaming industry, jumped 6.7 per cent, or 5p, to 80p after a 165 per cent increase in revenue in 2017. Profit surged from £49,983 in 2016 to £6.7million last year.
Market research experts YouGov were downgraded from ‘buy’ to ‘add’ by broker Peel Hunt, although it raised the firm’s target price by 80p to 495p. Shares sank 0.5 per cent, or 2.5p, to 465.5p.