Market Report: Investors cheer Spire's plans for robot surgery

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The march of our robot overlords has been given a boost by FTSE 250 hospitals group Spire Healthcare.

Not content with putting people out of work and clamouring to give us investment advice, androids now want to slice us open and plunge their metallic mitts inside.

Spire revealed plans for a surgical robot named after Italian jack-of-all-trades Leonardo da Vinci. They cost three million quid, and are actually operated by boring old humans.

Shame that Spire boss Rob Roger won’t be around to see it — he’s off to run a student digs company for Goldman Sachs and the Wellcome Trust in June.

The high-end investment is designed to attract more people to Spire hospitals. Longer waiting lists in the NHS will also help, it said. 

Investors tended to agree, sending shares 9.4p or 2.8% higher at 346.40p.    

Traders were still digesting yesterday’s sugar-free Budget and the Fed’s decision to temper rapid US rate hikes during trading today. The FTSE 100 was down 0.5%, losing 41 points to 6134.40 points after rising on the open.

Shares in Apple iPhone supplier Imagination Technology stormed off the start line like a racehorse in tomorrow’s Gold Cup after it unveiled a long-awaited rejig leading to 200 job cuts. They rose 2.9%, adding 5p to 176.75p.  

The group is trying to sell its Pure digital radio division, responsible for those block-like DAB radios you buy at Christmas when you’ve run out of present ideas, and said it had received considerable interest in the stereophonic favourite.  


Trouble spot: Analysts pointed at problems for the Next Directory (Picture: Next)

Everyone’s second-favourite fashion chain, Next, fell 2%, down 135p at 6,585p, after a 26-page research note from Haitong Research concluded that the good times were over for its credit-driven Next Directory business.

And like a Dickensian aphorism it was the best of times and worst of times in the UK commodities sector as the fortunes of Yorkshire potash group Sirius Minerals and London-based oil company Enquest diverged. 

Sirius shares crashed 19%, down 4.42p at 18.33p, after it said the cost of a fertiliser mine in North Yorkshire could rise to £3.7bn. 

Top of the FTSE leaderboard was oil firm Enquest, which rose 18.9%, adding 2.75p to 17.25p, after it revealed production jumped by more than a third last year, above the upper end of guidance.

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March 18, 2016 |
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