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Shell drives FTSE higher on cash dividend pledge

Shell drives FTSE higher on cash dividend pledge
 

Shell (RDSb) has helped to lift the FTSE 100 after the oil major announced plans to resume paying all its dividends in cash and begin share buybacks.

Shares in the oil giant jumped 4.2% to £24.61 on the news, helping the FTSE 100 rise 1% to 7,456.

Shell said that from this quarter it would scrap its scrip dividend programme, under which shareholders are given the option of receiving their payout in extra shares. It also reiterated plans to buy back at least $25 billion (£19 billion) of shares by 2020.

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Nicholas Hyett said Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden had 'delivered an early Christmas present' for shareholders.

'Improved cash generation has allowed the group to scrap the scrip dividend, with the debt position improving steadily as well,' he said.

'The extra shares issued under the scrip are set to be swept back up by a $25 billion share buyback over the next three years.'

Among 'mid-cap' stocks, shares in Ocado (OCDO) soared 20.1% to 307.8p after the online retailer announced a deal with French supermarket Casino (CASP.PA).

'Ocado has pleasantly surprised for once,' said Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital. 'After years of teasing about potential internationalisation the group has actually announced that it has nearly signed a deal. 

'Not with an unknown Scandinavian retailer, but no less than Groupe Casino! Casino is number three in French food retailing with group revenues of more than €36 billion (£32 billion).'

Cranswick (CWK) was another strong riser, up 9.1% at £32.92 after the pork and poultry producer reported a 17.2% jump in half-year profits.

Pets at Home (PETSP) meanwhile slumped to the bottom of the index, down 10.2% at 161.4p after reporting an 11.2% slide in first-half profits along with the departure of chief executive Ian Kellett.

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