UK stocks pushed higher at the open on Wednesday after data showed the local economy posted a recovery in June, but nevertheless dropped by 20% over the entire second quarter. At 0820, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 20.31 points, or 0.3%, at 6,174.65. UK gross domestic product fell by a record 20.4% in the three months through June, though in the month of June it rose 8.7%, ahead of expectations of an 8.1% rebound. In corporate news, online fashion retailer Asos rallied 10% to £46.41 on forecasting a full-year annual performance 'significantly' ahead of market expectations. Asos said its revenue growth was now expected to be between 17% and 19% with pre-tax profit in the region of £130m-to-£150m. Food delivery giant Just Eat Takeaway gained 3.6% to £89.86 after it reported bumper revenue growth in the first half and forecast more to come, as people avoid eating out during the pandemic. Cybersecurity provider Avast slipped 1.6% to 590.5p despite raising its dividend and forecasting revenue at the upper end of guidance after reporting a higher first-half profit. Avast, which has been benefiting from the work-from-home trend, declared an interim dividend of 4.8c per share, up 9.1% on-year. Thermal energy management and heat pumping specialist Spirax‐Sarco Engineering reversed 1.8% to £10.465, having posted a modest 2% fall in first-half profit that it described as 'resilient'. Spirax‐Sarco declared an interim dividend of 33.5p, up 5% on-year. M&G, the wealth manager spun out of insurer Prudential, advanced 2.0% to 177.1p after it posted a rise in first-half profit owing to short-term movements in investment returns, though its underlying earnings fell on client outflows. M&G declared an interim dividend of 6p per share, in line with its policy of paying one-third of the previous year's final dividend. Infrastructure company Balfour Beatty dropped 3.0% to 254p having swung to a first-half loss as construction activity was halted by the pandemic. Hostelworld rose 0.2% to 63p despite swinging to a €18.8m loss amid a 69% slump in revenue. But it wasn't all bad news from Hostelworld, which said it would pay a share-based dividend by way of a bonus issue, based on a value of 1 euro cent per share. Retirement products provider Just gained 2.1% to 51.55p on announcing that it had appointed John Hastings-Bass as its chairman. Hastings-Bass was previously chair of insurance broker BMS. Industrial services and rental group Northbridge added 2.8% to 92p on guiding for a broadly flat first-half trading profit, after lower revenue was offset by cost cutting.
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