UK stocks gained on Wednesday after rare good corporate news amid the coronavirus storm. Despite the oil price plunging for a second day amid a gloomy outlook for the commodity, UK stocks held firm as the lockdown and social distancing measures currently in place led inflation to fall to 1.5%. The benchmark FTSE 100 index closed 2.3%, or 129.6 points, higher to 5,770.63. LARGE AND MID CAP RISERS AND FALLERS Copper producer Antofagasta jumped 6.3% to 777p as it said it expects production to be at the lower end of the range between 725-to-755 thousand tonnes due to the implementation of social distances measures. The company highlighted a strong balance sheet with $2.5bn of cash putting it in a 'strong position' to confront operational uncertainty. Building materials company CRH gained 6.7% to £22.92 after seeing a positive start to the year with first-quarter like-for-like sales up 3%. The firm has suspended all non-essential expenditures and reduced working capital in-line with lower activity levels. Energy group Drax soared 16% to 228.8p after it reported trading in-line with expectations for the first-quarter to 31 March, including a $60m estimated impact from coronavirus, from lower power demand and bad debt risks. The firm confirmed the 2019 dividend payment of 9.5p per share. Online retailer Boohoo rose 12.3% to 305p after bumper sales underpinned a 54% rise in its annual profit. Boohoo said its outlook remained cautious, though added that its performance had improved in recent weeks following a slump that had started in the middle of March. Drink mixer retailer Fevertree soared 13.3% to £15.45 after it pledged to pay a final dividend for 2019, while touting its £128.3m of cash holdings. Fevertree's confidence in its balance sheet came even as it reported a relatively modest fall in annual profit, owing to lower sales in the UK offsetting growth in the US. Insurance company Hiscox fell 1.25% to 787.4p as it estimated up to $150m of claims related to Covid-19 lockdowns, should restrictions on travel and mass gatherings stay in place for six months from the end of March. Hiscox also noted that it had a substantial catastrophe reinsurance programme and robust capital, liquidity and funding positions. Student accommodation developer Unite added 4.2% to 803.5p on guiding for its income for the 2019-2020 academic year to fall by a lower-than-expected 16-20%. United had offered students the option to leave their lodgings in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. Wind farm investor The Renewable Infrastructure Group shed 1.12% to 123.4p despite it reaffirming its dividend guidance for the year. The company, however, also cut its power price forecasts due to the Covid-19 crisis. Polling and data company YouGov rallied 9.3% to 645p, having reported a 13% rise in first-half profit, buoyed by further growth in the US market. SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS Suit retailer Moss Bros plunged 24.4% to 15.5p after Brigadier Acquisition let its £22.6m bid for the company lapse. Belegured fashion house Ted Baker reversed 3.4% to 136.6p as it announced that it had appointed EasyJet chairman John Barton to head its board. Barton would remain chairman of EasyJet. Marketing services group XLMedia sank 10.6% to 22p on swinging to a full-year loss after it wrotedown the value of its assets following the demotion of its casino websites by Google.
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