MONDAY’S MARKET CLOSE: Talk of Morrisons sell-offs fuels rise

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Shares in Morrisons bounced today following speculation that the supermarket group will sell some of its properties and offer cash to investors.

The Bradford-based chain, which last week posted a poor Christmas trading update, is reportedly planning an £800 million raid on its property estate as it looks at ways of building up a cash pile that can be returned to investors.

The stock was up 6.4 per cent or 15.2p at 251.3p, even as some experts warned about the dangers of giving up too many of its valuable freeholds.

Clive Black, an analyst at Shore capital, said: “We can see scope for a modest realisation of cash from non-trading freehold assets and selective stores, which would reduce net debt and highlight the implicit value of the business. However, we are circumspect about the desirability or likelihood of wholesale sale and leaseback activity.”

The wider FTSE 100 closed up 17.21 at 6,757.15 after a key concession from regulators helped shares in Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland rally as the banking sector pushed the London market higher.

Fresh guidance from the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision will soften rules on capital requirements, raising hopes among investors for better returns at those firms with investment bank operations.

Barclays climbed 3 per cent, or 8.1p, to 291.7p and RBS lifted 11.1p to 368p.

Apart from Morrisons, the biggest FTSE 100 risers were mining group Fresnillo up 24.5p to 703.5p and Randgold Resources up 123p to 3,835p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Tullow Oil down 31.5p to 878p, Schroders off 39p at 2,590p, SSE down 20p to 1,344p and British American Tobacco, which slipped 42p to 3,042.5p.

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