UK stocks opened stronger on Tuesday after the local unemployment rate held steady and hopes rose that US lawmakers would agree on further stimulus measures. At 0821, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 77.12 points, or 1.3%, at 6,127.71. Britain's jobless rate stayed at 3.9% in the three months through June, though the claimant count for July jumped by a higher-than-expected 94.4k. Hotel group InterContinental Hotels firmed 2.3% to £40.93, even as it pulled its interim dividend after swinging to a first-half loss owing to a pandemic-led slump in room revenue. InterContinental Hotels said its near-term outlook remained uncertain and the time period for a market recovery was unknown. Home builder Bellway fell 0.5% to £25.52 as it too scrapped its interim dividend after reporting a sharp fall in sales as lockdown measures stalled construction activity. Looking ahead, Bellway said that whilst the economic outlook was uncertain, sales demand was encouraging. Online contracts for difference broker Plus500 rallied 7.3% to £13.44, having posted a big rise in first-half profit after heightened market volatility during the Covid-19 crisis tempted investors to place more bets. Plus500 also hiked its dividend and launched a $67.3m share buyback. Pizza chain Domino's Pizza sagged 3.3% to 314.2p even as it reinstated its dividend and reported a rise in first-half profit from continuing operations on the back of increased delivery sales. Domino's also booked a 15% fall in bottom-line net profit, owing to a loss on discontinued operations that included its former Norway business. Gambling company Gamesys gained 2.3% to £10.50 after it lifted its outlook on annual performance and declared its first dividend as profit was bolstered by a pandemic-led jump in revenue. Oil services group Petrofac added 0.5% to 166.15p despite swinging to a first-half loss after the Covid-19 crisis prompted a sharp fall in crude prices and dried up development activity in the energy sector. Wealth manager Quilter reversed 0.2% to 149.95p, having declared a 1p per share dividend, at the lower end of its target range, after its underlying first-half profit fell 20%. Cellular materials technology company Zotefoams advanced 5.9% to 378p even as it posted a 45% fall in first-half profit. Zotefoams held its dividend steady, citing cost cutting, while forecasting an improved revenue performance in the second half. Advanced materials manufacturer Versarien slumped 14% to 35.75p as it posted a deeper annual loss after its sales fell and staff costs rose.
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