Source - SMW
The FTSE 100 was down slightly in early trading, falling by 0.3% to 6,024 as investors waited for a speech later today from US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell which should shed some light on the direction of monetary policy.

Rolls-Royce reported heavy operating losses for the first half of 2020 from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The aerospace and engineering company reported a pre-tax loss of £5.4bn including a £2.6bn non-cash loss from the revaluation of its foreign currency hedge book. The underlying pre-tax loss was £3.2bn. Its shares fell 7.9% to 233.1p.

Marketing agency WPP is to restart dividends. Having scrapped its 2019 final dividend, it will pay interim dividend of 10p relating to the 2020 first-half period. Although it posted a £2.7bn pre-tax loss, the company said it could pay the dividend thanks to having £4.7bn of liquidity following the sale of its Kantar stake and delivering against cost saving targets. Its shares rose 4.8% to £6.54.

Recruitment consultant Hays scrapped its final dividend after reporting a fall in annual profit on lower net fees, though it has since seen a modest improvement amid easing lockdown restrictions. For the year ended 30 June, pre-tax profit fell 63% to £86.3m on-year as net fees slipped 12% to £996.2m. Its shares nudged ahead 0.4% to 117.9p.

Technical products and services provider Diploma said performance had started to recover following coronavirus-led weakness in the third quarter of the year. The period running from April to June 2020 was impacted by the COVID-19 crisis with revenues down 12% on a reported basis and down 21% on an underlying basis.

Patent translation specialist announced a merger deal with SDL, sending shares in the latter up 44% to 865.2p.

Cruise operator Carnival said it was extending its pause of operations in Australia through December owing to the continued progression of COVID-19. The news nudged shares lower by 1.4% to 955p.

Gambling company Flutter Entertainment dipped 1% to £124.55 despite reporting 'encouraging' performance as the second half of the year got underway. Reporting first-half results for the six months ended 30 June 2020, it said pre-tax profit fell 70% to £24m, while revenue increased 49% to £1.5bn.

Builders' merchants group Grafton jumped 8.5% to 810p as the first-half revenue decline was less severe than expected. Investors liked the company's upbeat commentary on recent performance. 

Anglo Pacific maintained its dividend despite swinging to a first-half loss as royalty revenue was hurt by the 'significant decrease' in coal prices during the second quarter caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gaming content developer and licensor Gaming Realms secured its first multi-state direct-integration agreement with its existing partner Rush Street Interactive as it continues to focus on increasing its presence in the US. The news boosted its shares by 5.4% to 23.3p.

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