The UK's flagship index has headed lower on opening as the global number of coronavirus cases topped 12 million and UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned of 'difficult times ahead' in a TV interview this morning. It follows the Chancellor's summer statement yesterday (8 July) in which he announced a £30bn package of measures to help boost the economy. The FTSE 100 was down 0.2%, or 11.44 points, at 6,144.72, while the FTSE 250 rose 0.4% to 17,259.85. Rolls-Royce has tumbled 8.4% to 263.6p after it reported a free cash outflow of £3bn in the first half as widebody engine flying hours fell by approximately 75% in the second quarter. In a trading update for the first half of 2020, the company said cashflows had been 'significantly affected' by Covid-19. Rio Tinto has buoyed 3.3% to 98.7p on the news that it plans to start winding down operations at New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) following a strategic review which concluded the business is no longer viable. It said that NZAS had given Meridian Energy notice to terminate the power contract, which will end in August 2021. Housebuilder Persimmon has climbed 4.8% to £25.49 after it said in a trading update for the first half that sales levels were 'encouraging'. The company reported that forward sales of new homes reached £1.86bn by 30 June, up 15% on last year and its build programme returned to normal levels. 3i Infrastructure has nudged up 1.5% to 299.8p as the infrastructure investment company said the performance of its portfolio was in line with expectations as total income declined from April through the end of June. The company said it would pay a final dividend for 2020 of 4.6p a share on 13 July 2020. AstraZeneca has headed 0.4% lower to £85.48 after the pharma giant said the US Food and Drug Administration had accepted supplemental new drug application and granted priority review for a drug used to reduce subsequent stroke in patients who experienced an acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack. Building materials distributor Grafton has gained 4.2% to 667p on the news it remained uncertain about the revenue outlook for the second half of the year as better than anticipated performance in June was likely boosted by pent-up demand. C&C has bounced 3.5% higher to 237p on the announcement that it has appointed David Forde as chief executive officer, who has joined from Heineken.
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