FRIDAY MARKET CLOSE: Hotels group serves up an extra divi

Intercontinental Hotels Group topped the blue chip risers’ board after posting better-than-expected numbers and announcing a hefty special dividend.

The shares jumped more than 8 per cent to 2,190p as the firm said it would consider selling more assets to top the $750 million (£445m) it is already handing to investors.

Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: “InterContinental has delivered a stellar performance. Growth in revenue per available room is ahead of expectation, led by the group’s core Americas division, while the return of hotel sale proceeds in the form of a special dividend is ahead of schedule.

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“Management’s move to review additional asset disposals, potentially returning more cash, provides the cherry on the cake.”

Royal Bank of Scotland was the other big riser as it delivered a long overdue upside surprise in its quarterly figures. Its shares also climbed more than 8 per cent, up 25.1p at 331.7p.

And the FTSE 100 Index completed a week of gains after it emerged that the US economy created 288,000 jobs in April, the best figure since January 2012. The index was 13.55 points higher at 6,822.42, ahead of the bank holiday weekend with the market closed on Monday.

AstraZeneca shares were little moved by new developments in its takeover situation after Pfizer sweetened its approach to £50 a share, valuing the firm at around £63 billion.

As the UK company has refused to engage, Pfizer may now consider it is time to take its approach direct to Astra shareholders. But the stock was 7p lower at 4,808p, well short of the £53 a share that some analysts think Pfizer will have to pay.

In other corporate news, Direct Line was 1.2p higher at 249p after it said weather claims in the first quarter will be £60m, better than the range previously forecast.