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MARKETS LIVE: Wetherspoons boss rips into Chancellor for ‘Budget for dinner parties’; BT agrees to hive off Openreach


Shares are 14.3p or 4% up at 344.45 after it announced a deal with regulator Ofcom to split out the Openreach network from its main business. Openreach will become a legally separate company without any BT branding, but will remain within the BT Group rather than being sold to a third party.
Read more: BT shares leap on deal to split Openreach network after two-year battle with regulator


The insurer zoomed to the top of the FTSE 250 leaderboard in late-morning trading after it said it was in ‘full growth mode’, with underlying post-tax profits up 18% to £80.5million in the year to the end of December. It added it had avoided taking a hit from changes to discount rate rules, which sets it apart from Admiral and Direct Line which both issued less upbeat statements this week and paid with share price drops.

Esure share are up 16.8p or 7.5%, to 239.1p.


Duet Real Estate Finance, with a 365% gain of 1.01p to 1.28p. It is, according to our own market info pages, ‘an investment company’: ‘a feeder fund and invests solely in the European Real Estate Debt Fund LP’. Its own website says it ‘provides financing to European commercial real estate’, and shows a retro share price of 6.76p for 24th November 2016. A bit of research suggests the Guernsey-based firm actually liquidated itself in late Feb, when the share price fell off a cliff, as it would, from c.7.00p to less than a penny. Make of all that what you will.


Back to the blue-chip losers of the day board and close behind those two miners, which are now down nearly 2%, is Intu Properties. Never ‘eard of ’em? It’s a real estate investment trust which only a few weeks ago hiked its full-year dividend after demand for its large shopping centres held up well despite weakness in the broader UK property market. However, the stock had a ‘sell’ rating reaffirmed by investment analysts at Liberum Capital in a note issued to investors this morning.


The ever-entertaining Tim Martin of Wetherspoons has ripped into Chancellor Philip Hammond, accusing him of delivering a ‘budget for dinner parties’ rather than pub goers. ‘We understand the need for the Government to raise taxes,’ he said. ‘However, there should be a sensible rebalancing of the taxes paid by pubs and supermarkets, if the pub industry is to survive in the long term.’


London’s blue-chip index is currently trading nearly 30 points up at 7344.4, with BT the top riser with a gain of 4.5% after the telecomms and media giant revealed this morning it has reached an agreement with Ofcom to hive off its infrastructure arm Openreach. More on that later. Morrisons makes a 1.5% recovery after a 6% drop yesterday despite decent figures as investors worried about headwinds persisting for the groceries sector.