MARKET REPORT: Mirror owner edges up as Montgomery plots buyout

Shares in Daily Express and Daily Mirror owner Reach edged higher after it became the target of a possible takeover offer. 

In an update to the stock market after trading closed on Thursday, newspaper tycoon David Montgomery said he was considering a bid through his group National World. 

Shares in Reach closed up 1.9 per cent, or 2p, to 105.7p yesterday, while National World fell 2.4 per cent, or 0.5p, to 20.5p. Montgomery, who turns 74 tomorrow, is a newspaper veteran who ran the Mirror Group in the 1990s following the death of Robert Maxwell. 

Offer: In an update to the stock market after trading closed on Thursday, newspaper tycoon David Montgomery said he was considering a bid through his group National World

A successful bid for Reach would put him back at the top of the Mirror titles as well as a host of local newspapers. His interest in Reach comes after last year’s takeover by National World of JPI Media, the third largest news publisher in the UK and owner of titles including The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post. 

The wider stock market was lifted by hopes that China will soon ease its strict Covid-19 restrictions, boosting luxury goods shares across Europe. 

Miners were also among the biggest beneficiaries as investors bet on renewed demand for raw materials from the world’s second largest economy. 

Anglo American surged 11.1pc per cent, or 295.5p, to 2951.5p, Rio Tinto gained 7.6 per cent, or 355p, to 5030p, Antofagasta soared 6.8 per cent, or 81p, to 1262p and Glencore climbed 2.5 per cent, or 13p, to 532p. 

Other stocks with exposure to China also made gains, with insurer Prudential rocketing 9 per cent, or 75.2p, to 913.6p and banking giant HSBC up 5.8 per cent, or 26.85p, at 490p. The FTSE100 gained 2 per cent, or 146.21 points, to 7334.84 and the FTSE 250 rose 1.3 per cent, or 231.96 points, to 18341.57.

 At the end of a week which saw online furniture retailer go bust, the City desperately needed some pre-Christmas cheer. 

Cue DFS Furniture, which shrugged off the doom and gloom by saying sales returned to growth in September. The Doncaster-based business said that despite spiralling inflation and a squeeze on living standards, trading has been ‘resilient’. 

Sales since early September have been above last year’s level and have also topped pre-pandemic numbers, with ‘continued evidence it is snapping up market share from rivals. 

The bullish update sent shares climbing 6 per cent, or 7.4p, to 131.8p, reversing a trend that has wiped £275m off the company this year. 

AstraZeneca inched up 0.6 per cent, or 60p, to 10742p after EU regulators approved the use of Beyfortus to protect infants from a seasonal respiratory virus. 

Advertising giant WPP gained 1.2 per cent, or 9.6p, to 800p after Morgan Stanley raised its target price to 730p from 700p. Earlier this week, boss Mark Read told trade publication PR Week that its business pipeline was bigger than a year ago. 

There also was good news for Morgan Advanced Materials as the group, which makes ceramics and crucibles for metal smelting factories, saw its sales rise 10 per cent in the nine months to September. 

Shares surged 15.8 per cent, or 38.5p, to 281.5p. 

Darktrace, meanwhile, rose 1.8 per cent, or 6.1p, to 348.9p after Numis issued a ‘buy’ rating and target price of 520p. The Cambridge-based cyber-security group also reassured the market that it would resolve a shareholder revolt over its pay policy. 

At its annual general meeting on Thursday, it said 20.7 per cent of votes cast had opposed its remuneration report. It wrote to the three shareholders – tech entrepreneur Mike Lynch, his wife Angela Bacares and GO ETF Solutions – who rejected the resolution.