FTSE opens lower as jobless rate rises; J&J vaccine trial paused

Tue, 13th Oct 2020

UK stocks were trading lower early on Tuesday after the local unemployment rate rose by more than expected and Johnson & Johnson paused a Covid-19 vaccine trial after a participant became ill. At 0822, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 32.42 points, or 0.5%, at 5,968.96. Britain's unemployment rate rose to 4.5% in the three months through August, up from 4.1% previously and above market expectations of a more modest increase to 4.3%. The claimant count, however, rose by a lower-than-expected 28,100. Power utility SSE firmed 2.9% to £13.64 on news that it had agreed to sell its 50% share in two energy-from-waste ventures to an infrastructure fund managed by First Sentier Investors for £995 million. SSE had in June identified the interests in the Multifuel Energy ventures as sales targets, as part of a £2 billion asset disposal strategy. Motor insurance provider Sabre Insurance fell 0.4% to 252p as it forecast lower sales, but said it had the balance-sheet strength to pay an 'attractive' final dividend. Sabre Insurance said its revenue for the year through December was still expected to fall around 10%, having dropped 9% in the nine months through September, an improvement from the 14% decline recorded for the first half. Auto retailer Marshall Motor rallied 13% to 135p, having upgraded its annual profit guidance as trading continued to bounce back strongly following an easing of the UK's national lockdown. Marshall Motor's pre-tax profit for the year through December was now seen falling to £15 million, up from previous guidance of breakeven. Third-quarter revenue had jumped 30%, including like-for-like sales growth of 18%. Intelletual property-based business developer IP Group rose 2.0% to 81.6p after portfolio company Oxford Nanopore Technologies raised an additional £84.4 million of new capital from existing and new investors. Real estate portal OnTheMarket added 0.2% to 101.66p as it swung to a first-half profit after it boosted revenue, even after cutting back on marketing costs. OnTheMarket said it expected to achieve a 'broadly breakeven' adjusted operating profit for the full year, amid a rise in second-half revenue and costs. Call-center software provider Netcall gained 2.1% to 49p, having hiked its dividend 25% after higher sales underpinned an improvement in its underlying earnings. Nanomaterials developer Nanoco fell 4.0% to 13.16p as it posted a deeper annual loss after its revenue slumped following the cancellation of a key contract. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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