UK stocks reversed opening softness to put in a late morning surge on Monday as investors shrugged-off geopolitical worries and soaring losses posted by HSBC, the UK's largest listed bank. At 12.30pm, the FTSE 100 was trading more than 0.7% higher at 5,939.60, as technology, transport, personal goods and pharma offset weak banks. The mid-cap FTSE 250 also made gains, nudging more cautiously higher to 16,955.17. LOSSES & BAD DEBTS HSBC dropped 4.5% to 326.7p after the lender booked a 69% slump in first-half net profit on the back of $6.9bn of credit losses. HSBC warned that for the full year, it could suffer credit losses in the range of $8bn to $13bn. Aero-engineer Senior sank 11.5% to 46.16p, having also posted a first-half loss, after it was hurt by the pandemic and the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Senior had laid off 1,329 employees, or 17% of its headcount, between June 2019 and June 2020. A further reduction of 570 positions was expected in the aerospace division in the second half of 2020, while another around 50 would go in the flexonics division. Insurer Hiscox was also a drag on the market, falling 5% to 742.8p after it swung to a loss. The insurance company was forced to set aside $232m for claims arising from Covid-19. It did not declare an interim dividend. GlaxoSmithKline gained 2% to £15.624 as it announced that it and Sanofi were in 'advanced discussions' with the European Commission to supply up to 300m doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. Cruise operator Carnival slipped 2.7% to 804.35p on announcing that its German line AIDA cruises would not resume operations this week as it continued to await approval from Italy. Music rights investor Hipgnosis Songs Fund bopped 1.2% higher to 118.42p, having acquired the music royalty catalogue of "Copacobana' singer Barry Manilow, for an undisclosed sum. DIVIDEND RETURNS Power control solutions manufacturer XP Power firmed 2.5% to £39.0687 as it reinstated its quarterly dividend after booking a modest rise in first-half adjusted profit supported by rising sales. XP Power declared an interim dividend of 18.0p per share, down 49% on-year, though that represented a reinstatement because no dividend was paid for the first quarter. Gene and cell therapy group Oxford Biomedica gained 0.6% to 822p after it signed a manufacturing and licensing agreement with US biotechnology company Beam Therapeutics. Real estate agency Purplebricks added 7.8% to 50.2p, even as it booked a full-year loss after the Covid-19 crisis hit revenue and it was forced to beat a retreat from offshore markets, including the US, due to poor performance. Fellow estate agency M Winkworth dropped 5.7% to 132p, despite announcing that it had seen a significant recovery in sales interest after the UK government cut the country's stamp duty threshold. Challenger bank Metro Bank rose 3.9% to 107.35p on announcing that it had agreed to acquire peer-to-peer lender Retail Money Market, which trades as RateSetter, for up to £12m. Defence contractor TP rallied 4.6% to 7.48p, having secured a contract worth around £1.0m with a 'leading UK engineering company' to provide management control equipment for enhanced safety management of hydrogen gas.
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