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MARKET REPORT: City toasts Stock Spirits after demand for its vodka in Poland helps to lift revenues

The City toasted Stock Spirits after demand for its vodka in Poland helped to lift revenues across the group by 9 per cent to £261m last year.

Its vodka is so popular there that the east European spirits maker will spend £21m expanding its Polish distillation plant over the next three years.

It is aiming to cash-in on demand in Poland for high-end spirits, and is selling more whisky through an agreement to distribute tipples such as Jim Beam. It was also boosted by a surge in sales in the Czech Republic, where it is the sole distributor of Diageo staples such as Baileys and Johnnie Walker. Full-year profits rose almost a quarter to £32m.

Stock Spirits also brushed off worries about the Czech government's plans to introduce a 13pc tax on spirits from January, as well as murmurings that Poland might do the same, saying it can manage any proposed changes.

Shareholders cheered the bullish outlook and soaring performance, sending shares 9.3 per cent higher, or 17.6p, to 206p.

Cafe-bar operator Loungers was also on the up, rising 3.3 per cent, or 6.5p, to 204p, as it said it was looking to triple the number of its UK sites after revenues jumped 22 per cent to £80m in the 24 weeks to October 6. Loungers, which operates the Lounges and Cosy Club chains, cut its loss to £2.5m, from £4.2m last year.

Venture capital group Augmentum Fintech tumbled after its portfolio company Zopa almost halved in value after securing new funding on Tuesday.

The fall in Zopa's value offset gains of around £15m from its other companies, meaning its overall gain on investments was around £4.6m.

Augmentum's shares closed 4.7 per cent lower, down 5p, at 102p.

S4 Capital and Infrastrata had mixed receptions to relatively big-name buy-ins.

S4, Sir Martin Sorrell's challenger advertising agency, rose 0.6pc, or 1p, to 180.5p, after fund manager Merian Global Investors took an 8.9pc stake. And Infrastrata, which recently saved the Titanic-building Harland & Wolff shipyard from collapse, fell 4.8 per cent, or 0.01p, to 0.29p, as boutique group Crux Asset Management bought 8.4 per cent of its shares.

Crux usually only focuses on FTSE 100 and 250-listed firms.

London's main benchmarks were treading water, with the FTSE 100 up 0.2 per cent, or 29.74 points, to 7188.50. The FTSE 250 rose 0.6 per cent, or 164.55 points, to 20,665.48.

FTSE 250-listed gold miner Centamin (down 0.8 per cent, or 1p, to 127.8p) warned Endeavour Mining's £1.5 billion merger bid would put dividends at risk and expose investors to the worsening security situation in Burkina Faso. Nearly half of Endeavour's gold resources are based there, whereas Centamin's are in Egypt. The Egyptian government has backed Endeavour's bid.

Oil prices jumped by 3.4 per cent to $62.90 a barrel ahead of a meeting of the Opec cartel and its allies in Vienna today, where countries are expected to announce further cuts to global production. Ahead of the meeting, Royal Dutch Shell rose 0.2 per cent, or 4.5p, to 2144.5p, BP added 0.6 per cent, or 2.6p, to 472.7p, while Premier Oil, which is very sensitive to swings in crude prices, leapt 5.8 per cent, or 4.96p, to 89.98p.

Among the airlines, Easyjet soared 5.1 per cent, or 67p, to 1373.5p, as it rejoined the Footsie following the quarterly reshuffle. Boss Johan Lundgren's pay fell by a third, from £1.5m to £1m – his bonus dropped as it missed a number of performance targets.

And Ryanair blamed the Boeing 737 Max crisis for making the second cut to its passenger forecasts in six months. Its shares jumped 1.8 per cent, or 24 cents, to €13.85.=

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ICO