Airline shares have soared amid talk that the owner of British Airways plans to buy rivals.

After returning to profit in the summer, IAG is believed to be looking for takeover targets.

The group owns BA, as well as Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus, and agreed to buy Air Europa for around £850m at the end of 2019, but the Covid pandemic scuppered the deal.

British Airways owner IAG is believed to be looking for takeover targets

IAG wants to revive the takeover and there is growing speculation that it may even target other struggling rivals such as Easyjet or Portuguese carrier TAP.

Luis Gallego, the boss of IAG, said last week: “We will only do what makes sense, but we see that there are opportunities to be stronger.” We are a group that wants to consolidate the industry.”

Liberum analyst Gerald Hu said that if a deal were ever to happen between IAG and Easyjet, it would be “difficult” to get past competition authorities.

Shares across the industry rose with IAG up 5.5 percent, or 6.28p, to 121.56p, Easyjet up 6.1 percent, or 19.9p, to 348.4p and Wizz Air rose 6.5 percent, or 104 pence, to 1,715 pence.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.7%, or 46.86 points, at 7,094.53, while the FTSE 250 was down 0.2%, or 26.74 points, at 17,889.93.

Centrica rose 4.7 per cent, or 3.46p, to 76.62p following a series of bullish broker ratings after owner British Gas last week announced the reopening of its Rough storage facility.

Barclays raised its price target on the stock to 144p from 121p, while Jefferies upgraded to “buy” from “hold” and Citi said it preferred companies such as Centrica that have “low debt and robust balance sheets”.

Blue chip banking stocks were also favored in the City. Natwest rose 4.4 per cent, or 9.9p, to 234.8p after Credit Suisse raised its price target to 370p from 350p.

UBS kept its buy rating and price targets on Lloyds (up 1.8 per cent, or 0.75p, to 42.02p) and Standard Chartered (up 0.1 per cent, or 0.6p, to 520 ,2).

Meanwhile, consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser rose 1.8 percent, or 102p, to 5,780p after Jefferies raised its rating and price target on the maker of Dettol and Nurofen.

Abrdn rose 4.2 per cent, or 2.75p, to 159p after launching the second phase of a £300m share buyback programme.

Stock Watch: Argo Blockchain on the Edge

Argo Blockchain warned last night that it could collapse without additional funding.

The London-based bitcoin miner last month signed an agreement with an investor to raise around £24 million by issuing new shares.

But the group said it did not believe the deal could be completed and was now looking at other ways to raise funds, including the sale of around £4.8m worth of Bitcoin machines.

Shares in Argo Blockchain, which had soared last year, fell 50.2 per cent, or 7.83p, to 7.77p.

Bodycote reversed course even as it killed Rolls-Royce’s deputy chief financial officer (up 1.5 percent, or 1.16p, to 78.15p).

The heat treatment specialist said Ben Fiedler will become chief financial officer next May. Shares fell 2.4 per cent, or 12.44p, to 495.6p.

The company, which makes the annual paper used to create commemorative poppies for the Royal British Legion, has issued a profit warning amid rising energy and raw material costs.

James Cropper, which also makes packaging for luxury brands such as Mulberry (210p), Burberry (down 0.1pc, or 2p, to 1,815p) and Selfridges, cut its 2023 profit forecast to £2m sterling – less than half a pound. Analysts expect 5.4 million.

The group’s energy bills soared 148 percent from a year earlier, while the cost of raw materials rose 20 percent. Shares fell 14.6 percent, or 145p, to 850p.

Investors in Lok’n’Store cheered after the storage provider posted record revenue and profit.

Revenue rose 22.9 per cent to £26.9m in the year to July, while profits soared 37.5 per cent to £16.4m.

Looking ahead, the group said the opening of four new stores over the next year and price increases would add to further revenue and profit growth. Shares rose 15 percent, or 125 pence, to 960 pence.

Software and data company 4Global has secured a £4m contract over five years for a “major sports infrastructure project” for a city in the Middle East. Shares soared 19.1 percent, or 11 pence, to 68.5 pence.

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