Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment topped London’s blue-chip index on Wednesday amid a mysterious rally in its share price, leading another day of gains on the market.
The gambling firm’s shares rose 704p to close at 6,838p, having at one point hit a high of 7,340p.
Commentators were left baffled by the boost, though the price was pushed higher than its initial rise after speculation mounted that a buyout could be on the horizon.
Flutter outperformed the rest of the FTSE 100, which was itself trading at a 10-month high. The index gained 50.13 points, or 0.66%, to close at 7,609.32.
It was supported by a weaker pound, as the currency fell again following another set of disappointing output figures, this time from the services sector.
Sterling dropped 0.22% to 1.257 US dollars and was down 0.1% on the euro to 1.114. Fears are growing that the UK economy shrank in the second quarter after this week’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) figures indicated a contraction in June.
Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, said the data was another “kick in the teeth” for pound traders.
“Expectations are for the British economy to have contracted in the second quarter,” she said. “With the uncertainty over a no-deal Brexit set to continue for several more months, the outlook for the rest of the year is gloomy at best.”
The German Dax and French Cac were higher, both climbing 0.71%.
Oil prices were higher, but failed to completely recover from the previous day’s severe decline. A barrel of Brent Crude oil was trading 0.45% higher at 63.08 US dollars.
In company news, Serco agreed a deal with the Serious Fraud Office to end a lengthy investigation into the scandal over its electronic tagging of offenders. The firm has been fined £19.2 million and will pay £3.7 million in investigation costs.
Shares were down 1.4p to 144.4p.
Sainsbury’s saw like-for-like sales continue to tumble over the past four months, as pressure continues to weigh down on boss Mike Coupe.
The share price fell 1.05p to 198.45p.
But JD Sports provided more positive retail news, saying it was on track to at least match its profit expectations for the year, on the back of a raft of new store openings.
Shares were up 17.6p to 620p.
Topps Tiles was also looking brighter, reporting a sales jump in the third quarter as its turnaround plan gained steam. Its shares were 1.6p higher at 68.6p.
London-focused housebuilder Telford Homes has agreed to a £267 million takeover by the world’s largest real estate services firm. Its shares soared 43p higher to 358p.
Online estate agency Purplebricks confirmed further plans to scale back its overseas business by pulling out of the US market as annual losses nearly doubled. Shares were up 2p to 95p.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Flutter Entertainment up 704p to 6,838p, Halma up 64p to 2,094p, JD Sports up 17.6p to 620p and Smurfit Kappa Group up 72p to 2,537p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Anglo American down 45p to 2,220p, BP down 9.6p to 546.3p, NMC Health down 26p to 2,454p and Glencore down 2.65p to 278.85p.