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Trending tickers: Darktrace, AstraZeneca, Persimmon, Bitcoin

The latest investor updates on stocks that are trending on Thursday

India. 27th Jan, 2021. In this photo illustration, the logo of Darktrace is seen displayed on a mobile phone screen with The AI (artificial intelligence) revolution written in the background. Credit: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Live News
Darktrace shares surged by 7% on Thursday. (SOPA Images, SOPA Images Limited)

Darktrace (DARK.L)

Darktrace shares surged by 7% after it raised its annual revenue and margin forecasts for the third time this year.

The British cybersecurity company's third-quarter revenue jumped 26.5%, driven by demand for its services due to an increase in digital attacks. It also benefitted from a boom in artificial intelligence.

It marks the second quarter in a row that the company has seen an increase in new revenue.

Cathy Graham, chief financial officer, said: "We believe the markets in which we operate are emerging from a period of relative economic uncertainty and moving to an environment where organisations can prioritise proactive cyber defense."

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Darktrace's revenue for the year ending June is now expected to grow at least 25.5%, compared with its previous forecast range of increasing 23.5% to 25%.

The company raised its annual revenue and core profit margins forecast in January, and again in March. Annual core profit margin is now expected to be at least 23%, from an earlier forecast of at least 21%.

The company added 170 customers in the third quarter, with almost 1,000 added since March 2023, taking its client base to a total of 9,402.

AstraZeneca (AZN.L)

AstraZeneca shares were 1.5% higher in London after it announced plans to raise its annual dividend for this year by 7%. This results in an increase to $3.10 (£2.47) per share, up from $2.90 (£2.31).

The UK pharmaceutical firm said the move underlines its “confidence in its performance and cash generation”.

Michel Demaré, chairman of the group, said the uplift was “in line with our progressive dividend policy, which remains unchanged and reflects the continuing strength of AstraZeneca’s investment proposition for shareholders”.

Read more: Gold rises to near record highs even as interest rate cut hopes fade

It comes just hours before Astra holds its AGM, where investors will vote on whether to approve chief executive Pascal Soriot’s, £17m pay packet. The payout last year drew much criticism from corporate governance experts.

According to AstraZeneca’s annual report, he was paid £16.9m last year, including salary, benefits and bonuses, up from £15.3m the year before.

He is in line for an even higher deal this year, depending on the company’s performance, with a maximum package of £18.6m including cash and long-term share bonuses.

Influential advisory firms Glass Lewis and ISS had both recommended shareholders vote against AstraZeneca’s pay policy.

Persimmon (PSN.L)

Persimmon slipped on Thursday, alongside other housebuilders, amid news that UK interest rates are now expected to be cut in August or September.

It comes as Bank of England (BoE) policymaker Megan Greene said there is a greater threat of inflation persistence in the UK than in the US, the latter of which saw prices rise faster than expected in the year to March.

It came as the UK housing market saw the best levels of interest among buyers in more than two years in March, according to a new survey.

Figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said house prices also touched their highest since 2022 as a recovery gathered more momentum. This was driven by cooling inflation and falling mortgage costs after their rise hit demand.

RICS' gauge of buyer enquiries showed a net balance of +8 last month, the strongest reading since February 2022 and up from +4 in February.

Its measure of house prices, while still showing more expectations of price falls than rises, hit its highest since October 2022 at -4, up from -10 in February and a low of 67 in September last year. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a reading of -6.

Bitcoin (BTC-USD)

Bitcoin climbed back above the $71,000 (£56,506) mark on Thursday, despite stock markets closing lower after a disappointing US inflation report.

The world's largest digital asset by market capitalisation increased by over 2% in the past 24 hours, reaching a daily high of over $71,200. The uptick follows a downturn in early trading on Wednesday, that saw bitcoin reach a daily low of around $68,000.

Major US stock indices closed lower after US consumer prices came in hotter than expected in March, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics

The US Consumer Price Index rose 0.4% over the previous month and 3.5% over the year to March, an acceleration from February's 3.2% annual gain in prices. The data matched February's month-over-month increase.

Bitcoin has an upcoming event that could act as a major price catalyst. The consensus among analysts is that the upcoming 'bitcoin halving' could continue to drive inflows into the bitcoin market. This event is anticipated to occur on or around Saturday, 20 April.

The bitcoin halving is an event that happens about every four years. The halving will reduce the reward that miners receive for validating blocks on the blockchain from the current 6.25 BTC to 3.125 BTC. This could act as a supply crunch for the digital asset, potentially leading to a price appreciation.

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