FTSE opens 0.4% higher; paring Monday's steep losses

Tue, 22nd Sep 2020

UK stocks opened higher on Tuesday, recovering only a modest portion of Monday's steep falls, as investors braced for news on fresh local lockdown measures. At 0826, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 20.61 points, or 0.4%, at 5,824.90, having dropped 3.4% in the previous session. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected later on Tuesday to tell more people to work from home, while forcing pubs and restaurants to shut from 10pm. Premier Inn hotel chain owner Whitbread fell 2.4% to £20.58 on announcing that it was planning to cut up to 6,000 jobs, or 18% of its workforce, due to an expected continuation of weak demand due to the Covid-19 crisis. Whitbread also reported a 77% slump in first-half sales following the closure of most of its hotels, the majority of which had now reopened though with lower occupancy rates. DIY group Kingfisher rallied 5.3% to 278.7p after its first-half profit jumped 62% thanks to cost cutting and a rebound in demand in the second quarter. Kingfisher, however, refrained from declaring interim dividend, citing ongoing uncertainty at a time when more lockdowns may loom. General insurer Beazley tumbled 13% as it hiked its Covid-19 claims estimate amid a resurgence in cases of the coronavirus. Travel company TUI, gained 2.8% to 278.6p even as it said summer bookings in its markets and airlines business were down 83%, as the Covid-19 crisis continues to crunch holiday markets. In the hotels and restaurants business, meanwhile, TUI said it had reopened 157 hotels, or about 44% of its portfolio, by the end of August. Information services provider and events company Euromoney Institutional Investor shed 1.0% to 793p, even as it forecast an adjusted pre-tax profit ahead of market expectations, thanks to higher subscription revenue. Euromoney, however, also warned of further pressure on its events business due to likely cancellations owing to the pandemic. Generic drug maker Hikma Pharmaceuticals slumped 4.4% to £24.73, owing to a delay in the regulatory approval of its generic form of GlaxoSmithKline's's respiratory drug Advair. Residential development and regeneration specialist Sigma Capital rallied 15% to 113p on news that it had formed a joint venture with EQT Real Estate to deliver new homes for private rental in Greater London. The venture was being supported by UK government agency Homes England and was targeting establishment of an initial portfolio of around 3,000 homes with a value in excess of £1bn. Sports, leisure and mobility equipment retailer Tandem fell 5% to 361p, even as it posted a rise in first-half profit and doubled its dividend to 3.12p per share, as demand for bicycles jumped during the pandemic. Revenue growth, however, had been limited to 6% due to weaker free-on-board orders from national retailers. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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