FTSE opens lower amid tech pull-back; rising global infections

Tue, 20th Apr 2021

UK stocks opened lower on Tuesday following a pull-back in US tech stocks, and as a global resurgence of Covid-19 cases stokes mutation fears. At 0830, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 20.87 points, or 0.3%, at 6,979.21. Sugar-to-clothes retailer Associated British Foods fell 0.2% to £24.5557 having resumed its dividend payment, though at a lower rate, after lockdowns hurt budget fashion chain Primark. The companyÂ’s adjusted pre-tax profit for the 24 weeks to 27 February slumped 50% to £319 million and included a 90% drop in adjusted operating profit at Primark. AB Foods declared an interim dividend of 6.2p per share, down from 12.05p year-on-year. Mining company Rio Tinto gained 1.2% to £61.59 after it reported a drop in first-quarter iron ore production, citing wet weather, but maintained its annual guidance ranges for all of its products. Output of the key steel-making ingredient from the group's Pilbara operations in Australia in the three months through March fell to 76.4 million tons, down 2% year-on-year and 11% compared to the fourth quarter of 2020. Cybersecurity provider Avast rallied 3.1% to 486p as it lifted its annual revenue guidance citing continued demand in the first quarter. For the full year 2021, Avast now expected to deliver at the upper end of its 6-to-8% organic revenue growth guidance, with a broadly flat operating margin. Wealth manager Jupiter Fund Management shed 0.4% to 2768p, having reported an uptick in first-quarter assets under management, though with net outflows in the period of £0.8 billion. Investment manager and advisory support group Tatton Asset Management jumped 8.5% to 410p on guiding for annual results ahead of analysts' forecasts. Tatton's inflows for the year through March were £755 million, or 11.3% of opening assets under management, which jumped 35% to £9.0 billion, up from £6.7 billion year-on-year. Price comparison service Moneysupermarket fell 1.3% to 267 as its first-quarter revenue dropped 20%. Moneysupermarket, however, said it expected its full-year results to be in line with market expectations. Russia-focused miner Petropavlovsk firmed 2.1% to 27.36p after it reported a 49% drop in first-quarter production but stuck to its annual output guidance. Gem miner Petra Diamonds climbed 5.3% to 1.58p, having reported a 16% rise in third-quarter revenue, thanks to higher diamond prices, offsetting a 48% fall in production. Cosmetics company Warpaint London rallied 12% to 120.55 on announcing that it had continued to experience improved trading conditions in the first quarter of 2021, with sales and margins both on the rise. Translation services provider Zoo Digital advanced 5.8% to 118p on guiding for annual operating earnings to more than double, on the back of a stronger-than-expected revenue performance. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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